Verizon Lobbyists: That Deaf, Dumb And Blind Kid Sure Could Use An Internet Fast Lane

from the to-paraphrase-the-who dept

As we've discussed, big broadband companies love to pretend that their anti-competitive efforts will somehow benefit less powerful groups. It's a cynical ploy that goes back to the famous statement about GM that "what's good for GM is good for the country." It is even more cynically done here, since it often involves marginalized groups, allowing the big companies to tug on heart strings of politicians, while actually making life worse for those marginalized groups. The latest in this arena, according to Mother Jones, is that Verizon lobbyists are swarming Capitol Hill telling folks in Congress that it needs to be able to offer "fast lanes" on the internet to help deaf, blind and disabled internet users. Of course, there's a big problem with this -- namely, the groups that represent those folks appear to disagree.
Three Hill sources tell Mother Jones that Verizon lobbyists have cited the needs of blind, deaf, and disabled people to try to convince congressional staffers and their bosses to get on board with the fast lane idea. But groups representing disabled Americans, including the National Association of the Deaf, the National Federation of the Blind, and the American Association of People with Disabilities are not advocating for this plan. Mark Perriello, the president and CEO of the AAPD, says that this is the "first time" he has heard "these specific talking points."
The basic argument is that if true net neutrality is allowed, then somehow, magically, Verizon and others won't be able to offer priority services that are more "necessary" for these groups. Except, of course, that's not even close to true. There are plenty of great and useful online services for these different groups, most of which are built by organizations that are not Verizon and which actually rely on the fact that they don't have to double pay the big broadband providers to make sure their offerings work properly.

Even more to the point, though, this lobbying effort makes it pretty clear that, contrary to FCC boss Tom Wheeler's own claims, Verizon (and AT&T and Comcast) recognize that the current FCC proposal will, in fact, enable "fast lanes" and "slow lanes" on the internet. It's even more obvious from the fact that AT&T has flat out come out in favor of the current proposal.

Either way, lobbyists playing cynical games to rope in groups that don't want their help in support of breaking net neutrality just shows how incredibly desperate the big broadband players are getting in trying to block any real shot at net neutrality.

Filed Under: blind, broadband, cynicism, deaf, disabled, fast lane, lobbyists, net neutrality
Companies: verizon

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2014 @ 9:18am

    A fast lane isn't going to do the blind much good, unfortunately. Audio isn't bandwidth intensive, so I don't see how a fast lane would benefit them.

    I don't know what the ratio of deaf population is, compared to the non-deaf. I imagine it's not that high. So I don't believe there's a risk of them bogging down the cellular networks while using FaceTime video calls, and communicating using sign language over the phone.

    The biggest risk to deaf persons comes from Verizon, itself. They have such low data caps on their phone plans that a deaf person will probably max out on data usage from hand signing over FaceTime before the month is over. Then Verizon will price gouge the heck out of these poor people for going over their data usage plan.

    Fast lanes aren't going to help with that at all. If anything, we need "high data usage lanes" for deaf persons, not "fast lanes".

    I also see these lobbyists are talking about medical implant devices needing fast lane priority over cellular networks. That's just absurd!

    If you have a medical device implanted in you, and if that device looses connection to a cellular tower for a few seconds it causes you to die. Well, why the hell would you put such a device into a person to begin with!? Pure stupidity, and I hope the doctor and hospital that comes up with that disastrous idea gets sued by the deceased patients family and lose their medical licenses.

    Implant a device that needs a constant connection to a cellular tower into someone. That's the dumbest argument I've ever heard!

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