Data Foundry Meets with Congressman Lloyd Doggett on Net Neutrality & Open Access

Lloyd Doggett visit Data Foundry 2

Yesterday, representatives from Data Foundry and our sister company, Golden Frog, met with Congressman Lloyd Doggett over some delicious Texas BBQ to discuss the FCC’s recent repeal of Net Neutrality rules and how Open Access could be the solution. Equal Internet access and the protection of our digital privacy should be bipartisan issues, and Representative Doggett agreed. We also discussed digital surveillance in the U.S. and abroad.

Data Foundry has been fighting for Open Access since its elimination in the early 2000s, and with the ending of Net Neutrality, the FCC may have unwittingly laid down the path to get it done. Many other tech companies feel the same way about the repeal of Title II classification and what it means. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, some tech companies and entrepreneurs are working to fight back against the repeal of Net Neutrality and protect privacy with technology, using VPNs, mesh networks, and antennas to access the Internet and to communicate privately.

Co-Founder, Ron Yokubaitis, compared the regulation of energy infrastructure to the Internet and mentioned that a similar model could be used to provide equal access. Today, the Internet is a utility just like power. It is necessary for managing bills and making payments, doing schoolwork and a myriad of other everyday activities. In the energy utility market, one company owns the infrastructure for distribution, but retail providers all pay the same rate to use that infrastructure, and not one retailer is given preference over another. We believe this model would also be successful for Internet service providers.

While major providers such as Verizon have fought to be classified as Title I providers (not a utility) under the Communications Act, and they were successful with the repeal of Net Neutrality rules, they have been more than happy to be classified under Title II (as common carriers) when it involves access to government funding. For example, major broadband providers have agreed to build out more infrastructure on more than one occasion in exchange for government subsidies, a.k.a taxpayer money, under the premise of Title II.

Data Foundry asked the Congressman to push for a study that would provide proof of whether or not major broadband providers have met their former obligations after receiving benefits under Title II to build out broadband infrastructure. Many believe major providers who took subsidies never delivered on their promises. As Mike Masnick mentions in his Tech Dirt article, “I imagine Verizon has no intention of paying back taxpayers for those benefits…This is the very same company that has repeatedly promised massive broadband deployment in exchange for subsidies, and then repeatedly failed to deliver…”

We believe proof of failure to build out infrastructure would further the case for open access and Title II classification. The fight for fair and equal access to the Internet continues, and the fight for digital privacy is an uphill battle, but one we feel is well worth the effort.