Marsha Blackburn, one of the main opponents of net neutrality, won a seat in the U.S. Senate.
She won 54.7% of the vote, defeating Democrat Phil Bredesen, who received 43.9%. Blackburn became the first female senator from the state of Tennessee in the U.S. history.
The business lady from Mississippi joined the U.S. Republican Party in her youth. Even in the most controversial conflicts, Blackburn has always sided with the current U.S. president and was one of the few women in politics who sharply criticized Hillary Clinton. She is known for many odious initiatives and sayings. But separately in the series is her relationship with the Internet.
It was Marsha Blackburn who dominated Congress in the law allowing providers to manage user data at their discretion. According to this document, the history of visits to any Internet user can be sold and purchased for marketing analysis. Such law abolished the rules approved by the administration of Barack Obama, according to which users entirely controlled the level of openness of their data. As a result, the Congress resolution, repealing the rules that would require Internet service providers to obtain permission from the client to collect, use and sell information about online habits, was signed.
The name of Marsha Blackburn is also associated with the cancellation of the decision on network neutrality. This is a human right to an equal access to all Internet resources. The term was coined by a law professor at Columbia University Timothy Wu in the early 2000s. With the advent of social media, streaming services, and video hosting sites, the attitude of providers to equal access has seriously changed. To compensate for the cost of additional equipment, they decided to introduce a surcharge for uninterrupted connection to some sites. At the same time, non-observance of the policy of neutrality can seriously hit some Internet resources, since providers can set restrictions on their own will.
A few years ago, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to consider the Internet as public lines of communication, which meant a ban on restrictions on connecting to any resources. Thus, the FCC introduced network neutrality in the country. Companies that own cable lines and mobile networks spoke against net neutrality. Republicans also opposed the initiative. Marsha Blackburn initially stated that she was preparing a bill to block the FCC decision.
As a result, this spring, the FCC announced that net neutrality in the United States would be canceled. However, the initiative was faced with active criticism in American society. Back in January, the attorney generals of 21 states, as well as several public organizations, filed a lawsuit against the decision of the FCC. In their opinion, the abolition of network neutrality violates the rights of consumers to free access to the Internet and may lead to an abuse by providers.
Blackburn could play a key role in writing net neutrality legislation. She has authored several bills in the past few years, including the "Open Internet Preservation Act," which allow providers to create paid fast lanes. The bill also prohibits state governments from enacting their own net neutrality laws and would also prohibit the FCC from imposing any type of common carrier regulations on broadband providers. The document also prohibits the FCC from introducing any general carrier rules for broadband providers.
The media believe that the net neutrality bill drafted by Blackburn is unlikely to pass through the Congress. Democrats tried to reinstate the full set of net neutrality rules repealed by FCC. Their biggest victory was a vote in the Senate to reverse the repeal, in which all members of the Democratic caucus voted to restore the rules of network neutrality.
Recently, the latest “Internet Freedom” ratings have been published, reflected in the annual report of Freedom House. It shows the state of Internet freedom and personal freedoms in 65 countries, which represent the vast majority of Internet users in the world. Despite the fact that the United States is still in the top ten, the country has decreased compared to values that were a year earlier. This happened just after the change in the regulation of the Internet.
Last year, the U.S. was 21st in the global Internet freedom ranking (the smaller the number, the better the country). This year the United States is 22nd due to the abolition of net neutrality. The fall in the rating may not seem so significant, but experts believe that the United States is a beacon of freedom of speech and expression, which means that a downgrade is a wake-up call. Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, said that the U.S. government, in particular, should take a more active role in stepping up its efforts to maintain a free and open Internet.
The founding father of the Web comes to defense
Web founding father Tim Bernes-Lee also actively supports net neutrality and offers to monitor its compliance. He is so preoccupied with the current situation around the world wide web that he launched a campaign in which he intends to convince IT corporations, governments and users to adopt a set of rules to protect a free and open network - the “Contract for the Web”.
“The Web is at a crucial point. We need a new Contract for the Web, with clear and tough responsibilities for those who have the power to make it better,” said Berners-Lee.
In May 2019, half of the world's population will have access to the Internet. That's when the document will be fully published. The “Contract” has already been signed by more than 50 companies, including Google, Cloudflare, Facebook, and others. Tim Berners-Lee believes that the Internet needs to regain the trust of users. He proposes to expand access to the Network on fair terms and stimulate the joint work of the government, companies and ordinary users.
The expert said that the Internet is in a critical condition, and a set of rules will help its development. According to the “Contract”, providers must provide access to the Network, and not block certain resources. Companies should allow users to control their personal data. Governments are encouraged to provide all citizens with access to the Internet. Berners-Lee also insists on combating the flaws of the modern Web, such as fake news, bias, trolling, and others.
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