I wrote an email asking Senator Isakson to support the FCCs moves to help control the abuses of companies like Comcast on the internet. I got a canned response (no surprise), and tried to reply to that only to find that the email address that Isakson’s staff sends emails from isn’t a real email address. There’s no way for me to actually have a conversation with someone from his office about this issue.

Below, I’ve reproduced his response to my initial email and my response to him. I don’t have record of my original email.


Thank you for contacting me regarding the issue of net neutrality. I appreciate your thoughts on this subject and I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to you.

I have consistently been opposed to attempts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet, because I believe that the competition created by the free market will better ensure that the Internet remains open and free. I also believe that unnecessary regulations have the potential to stifle innovation and be harmful to consumers. In the past, I have supported several legislative measures in this regard, including an amendment to prohibit the FCC from using any appropriated funds “to adopt, implement, or otherwise litigate any network neutrality based rules, protocols, or standards.” 

In 2014, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the FCC’s Open Internet Order which barred Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) from blocking websites or from any unreasonable discrimination against Internet traffic. This ruling has caused many to call for the FCC to classify broadband Internet services as telecommunications services subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This classification would give the FCC regulatory authority over the Internet and access to its content. I do not support this reclassification of the Internet.

On May 15, 2014, the FCC decided in a three to two vote to allow ISP’s to charge websites for premium service or Internet “fast lanes.” The Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, has said that the ban on blocking websites will remain, but that an ISP could offer varying speeds for websites as long as the arrangements are “commercially reasonable.”  

As we move forward this Congress I will keep a close eye on these issues and work with my colleagues to determine if any Congressional action is necessary. I will keep your thoughts and concerns in mind should any related legislation come before me on the Senate floor.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please visit my webpage at www.isakson.senate.gov for more information on the issues important to you and to sign up for my newsletter.

Sincerely,
Johnny Isakson
United States Senator


Senator,

Regarding your assertion, “This classification would give the FCC regulatory authority over the Internet and access to its content.” This would give the FCC some limited scope of authority over the Internet. However, much as in the case of their regulatory authority over telephone lines they wouldn’t have access to (or even have cause to) discriminate content. As a technologist I can tell you that if they attempted to do so, they wouldn’t succeed. But let’s not argue the technology. Let’s, instead, talk about the free market.

Presently, ISPs are abusing the level of latitude they’ve been given to date to extort additional money from content providers when content providers are not their customers. This is well documented. If Comcast is accepting money from Netflix to ensure delivery of their videos, let me ask you this: Who is Comcast’s customer? Is it me – the person paying for access to their last mile network – or Netflix – the company paying for access to people using their last mile network? If it’s the latter, what method of recourse do I have if Comcast and AT&T both accept a deal with Netflix to deliver Netflix’s content faster than Hulu’s? I have none.

AT&T and Comcast are both a part of a duopoly, which means the market can’t force them to behave correctly. I can’t opt-out of their services because internet is required to be a functioning member of the 21st century. And because it is, we should support the FCC and pass legislation to ensure that there is equal opportunity for me, as an individual, to compete with Netflix if I so desire with little pre-existing capital. This is the way the internet has always functioned until very recently, and it’s what lead to such amazing success over the past decade. It worked that way based on the implied contract that content providers pay for transmission of their data to the “last mile” as it’s called. Last mile networks like Comcast, and their customers, pay for transmission from there to the customer.

Please change your opinion. Preserve opportunity for small businesses and permit free market forces to continue to operate on a level playing ground in the digital world.

Thank you,

Matt Farmer


I’m quite disappointed that the Senator isn’t sending emails from an address people can respond to. The message rejected notice that I got in my attempt to reply to his message communicates explicitly how much he actually cares that I, a Georgian he’s supposed to be serving, thinks he’s wrong. Go figure, right?