Last month, Congress voted to repeal FCC rules that would prevent internet service providers from selling your personal web browsing and app usage data. It was a decision that’s unpopular across the country, regardless of party affiliation. If the politicians that voted in favor of the reversal thought no one would notice, there are some big ass signs in their districts that say otherwise.
The internet activists at the non-profit Fight for the Future have crowdfunded four billboards, so far, that shame the members of congress that voted for the repeal. The lawmakers that have the honor of being called out will now have to see their face along the highway when they return home. Those lucky few are Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Dean Heller (R-NV), John Rutherford (R-FL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). These four lawmakers accepted a combined $196,905 in campaign contributions from the telecom industry in the last election cycle. Blackburn, in particular, has been a longtime enemy of net neutrality. Just last year, she brought up SOPA and tried to frame it as an initiative that would have increased cybersecurity. She told Wolf Blitzer:
And of course, there were all of the cyberbots that took out after us that were trying to say ‘no you can’t do that, you’re going to impede our free speech.’ We said ‘no we’re trying to keep the roadway clear and to keep some of these bad actors out of the system.’
Yeah, that’s idiotic. And now, her face is up there on a billboard alongside the whopping figure of $497,499 that she’s accepted from telecoms during her career.
You’ll notice that all of the people chosen for the first round of billboards are Republicans. That’s not because of some sort of bias, it’s because Republicans were the only ones who voted for the repeal of the FCC rules. Here’s a full list of the people who sold you out and the amount of money it cost to get them to do it. The only person on the list who hasn’t taken money from telecoms (on the record) is Senator Larry Strange. Strange was appointed to replace Senator Jeff Sessions when he became attorney general in February. He also might be in some trouble for violating campaign finance laws. But c’mon, how could you not trust a man named Luther Strange.
The last time that attacks on the open internet occurred, the legislation was killed by a grassroots campaign that was partially organized by Fight for the Future. More than 40,000 websites joined in FFTF’s internet slowdown protest. The renewed push to kill net neutrality has been a bit more under-the-radar this time around. There are a lot of things to be outraged about and it’s tough to keep up. But hopefully, as lawmakers start seeing their faces alongside the figures for their legal bribes, they’ll start having second thoughts.