Conflicts of Interest:
For those of you who haven’t been following the debate over “net neutrality” and the COPE bill you should hop over to the Editor’s Blog at the new Congresspedia. Conor Kenny has provided a quick and accurate summary of the issue. Essentially, the telephone and cable companies want to be able to create a tiered system in the Internet where they control the content. The industry has spent hundreds of thousands lobbying on the issue and recently defeated an effort by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) to ensure the freedom of internet by establishing “net neutrality”. Markey’s amendment failed in a subcommittee vote 34-22.
The COPE bill is cosponsored by four congressmen Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX), Chip Pickering (R-MS), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Bobby Rush (D-IL). As usual these congressmen acting in the interest of the telecommunications industry have some explaining to do. Last week we found out about the $1 million grant that SBC/AT&T gave to a community center founded by Bobby Rush. It just so happens to turn out that Barton and Upton both own dividends in the companies that would benefit from the legislation.
Barton owns between $1,000-$15,000 in dividends of SBC, one of the principle players in the COPE bill. Upton owns between $1,000-$15,000 in dividends in SBC, AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. In a trust that Upton does not control he owns between $15,000-$50,000 of dividends in SBC and between $1,000-$15,000 in dividends of Verizon.
Well, I guess that Barton, Upton, and the cable and telecom companies are set to make some money off of this bill. Everybody wins … except for Internet users.