I had a moment of egotistical delusion today. Along with an email from a reader who said they think they may be falling in love with me, I got a message from Herb Kohl. For a second, I thought he'd heard that I was backing Rae Vogeler and wanted to plead me back on board. No such luck. It was a canned letter in response to an email I sent urging him to back net neutrality.
Dear Mr. Canaan:So much for my influential media empire.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your concerns about the Internet and net neutrality. I value the correspondence I get from people back home in Wisconsin, and I would like to take this opportunity to address your concerns.
As you may know, "net neutrality" refers to the concept that Internet network operators should be neutral conduits of content. In other words, phone, cable, and other companies that operate Internet networks should not be permitted to favor or prioritize some Internet traffic over other traffic.
Internet network operators have recently argued they should be permitted to charge higher rates for some services than others. This would give network operators the ability to sell priority status to content providers. In exchange for a fee, certain content would receive priority over general traffic and move from point to point more quickly. Network operators claim these fees would permit network upgrades and the creation of new services. They also argue this tiered service option would benefit consumers by managing Internet traffic more effectively and therefore offering a higher speed Internet.
Internet content providers are generally opposed to any attempt to undermine the current impartiality of the Internet. These companies, which provide the "content" of the Internet, believe net neutrality is crucial for the continued growth and success of the Internet. Content providers argue that permitting priority pricing on the Internet would restrict consumer choice and activity and would fundamentally undermine the Internet.
I appreciate knowing your thoughts about net neutrality and the Internet. You maybe interested to know that the Senate Commerce Committee recently held a hearing entitled, "Net Neutrality," investigating the issue of nondiscrimination on the Internet. Following these hearings, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 2360, the "Internet Non-Discrimination Act," which aims to ensure a free and open Internet. This bill has been referred to the Commerce Committee, of which I am not a member. However, as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, you can be sure that I am committed to developing policies that foster greater competition among service and content providers and pass along a wider service selection and lower rates to consumers.
Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. I appreciate having the benefit of your views.
I'm having a little trouble figuring out where he stands on this. He spends a lot of time explaining an issue that it's very likely that I already know about - seeing how I wrote him about it. And, you know? It sounds a bit like I can't count on him - that he's going to back the big telcoms.
But really, have you ever seen a less commital statement? That's Herb for ya - and that's why I'm backing Rae.