Saturday, October 24, 2009

John McCain's 'Series of Tubes'

The "Maverick" just played his hand on Net Neutrality, and the cards reveal a man who's outsider image doesn't quite add up.

On Thursday, Sen. John McCain introduced legislation to kill the open Internet, the deceptively named "Internet Freedom Act." The bill would stop all FCC efforts to have an open and public discussion about proposed Net Neutrality rules.

This comes from a senator who has received more money ($894,379) from AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and their lobbyists than any other member of Congress.

McCain also infamously told the media that he is "illiterate" when it comes to using the Internet and computers.

If this latest round of sock puppetry sounds an echo, it's because McCain seems to be channeling Sen. Ted Stevens' "series of tubes" gaffe from 2006.

Stevens' comments erupted forth during a Commerce Committee hearing as the Senator tried to squash efforts to establish Net Neutrality rules in Congress. But rather than beating back popular support for an open Internet, Stevens exposed himself to be a senator who is disconnected from any understanding of the Internet, but determined nonetheless to push forth the agenda of those that filled his campaign coffers.

As it was in 2006, social media has noticed, and is now awash with criticism of yet another Senator getting cozy with special interests. (You can join the critique here.) More mainstream media are starting to pick up on the McCain sellout as well.

This latest episode exposes the right and wrong sides of the Net Neutrality debate. And it poses a fundamental question to everyone:

Whom do you want to determine the future of the Internet?

A senator who is little more than a mouthpiece for the same phone and cable lobby that's vying to rig the Internet and control your clicks, or the more than 1.6 million people who have called for Net Neutrality -- a group that includes the geeks who created the Internet to be an open platform.

McCain has built his reputation as an alleged "straight shooter." If he is truly a person of integrity, he would return the tainted $894,379, spike this bad bill and get behind Net Neutrality.

But don't be surprised if this "Maverick" just keeps playing the cards that AT&T has dealt him.