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Really, Congress? Comcast won't protect net neutrality if the best you can do is ask nicely

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Do your job, make a law

Win McNamee

Here's what's happening right now on net neutrality:

The FCC's comment period is over and 3.7 million people weighed in — that means even more people are concerned about net neutrality than Super Bowl XXXVIII: Wardrobe Malfunctiongate. And, yes, America, it's totally reasonable and appropriate to be mad at the FCC. It has screwed up on net neutrality for years from cowardice and simply by using the wrong words. But Americans who want to protect net neutrality should also start being mad at Congress.

Americans who want to protect net neutrality should start being mad at Congress

It's Congress that has largely turned net neutrality regulation into a partisan charade that occasionally results in threats to the FCC's budget and authority via Congress' telecommunications benefactors. The FCC's dithering on net neutrality has been enabled for years by this nonsense and it's now reflected even by the agency's bench, which seats some commissioners who have advocated stripping themselves of power to avoid going against corporate interests. Even the FCC's chairman is intimately familiar with those corporate interests; Tom Wheeler is a former telecom lobbyist and was appointed by a president who promised that lobbyists wouldn't run his administration in a distant magical time called "Before He Was Elected."

If you want a clear example of Congress' ineptitude on net neutrality, look no further than a letter sent to Comcast today by Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D, VT). Leahy, who is an influential supporter of net neutrality regulations and has significant power in his congressional seniority, has resorted to politely asking telecommunications monopolies not to harm the internet. If anybody thinks monopolistic entities like Comcast and other companies will voluntarily pass on easy cash they're high.

A Comcast spokeswoman told The New York Times the company is "reviewing the letter," which I have no doubt means it was laughed at and promptly recycled.

Make a good law, you could use the publicity

The FCC was created as an "independent" agency to insulate it against the partisan games of Washington. In hindsight, that seems naive and laughable. In practice the FCC isn't independent from the whims of Congress or even from the industry it regulates. Time is running out for the FCC to save net neutrality, and it may soon be time for Congress to act.

Do your job, Congress. Make net neutrality the law of the land. You could really use a win.