Joco Opinion

Yoder has fought the FCC before. He needs to step up again with net neutrality

I am the owner of SMB Logic, a Kansas City-based digital marketing company. Recently, a non-partisan group of small business owners and constituents, myself included, took time to meet with the staff at Rep. Kevin Yoder’s office to discuss the critical issue of net neutrality, provide factual educational resources, and discuss the current state of net neutrality affairs to help advise on the most meaningful legislative course of action on the matter.

The state of affairs is as such: At the end of 2017 FCC Chairman Ajit Pai revealed his intent to overturn and remove the net neutrality consumer protections that had been instituted by the 2015 FCC. Those protections came from the Title II of the Communications Act and provided consumer protections and insulation from ISP data prioritization, throttling, manipulation and predatory pricing practices. Pai and two other FCC committee members (of a four-person committee) voted in a closed-door proceeding to undermine and repeal the net neutrality protections that the American people had loudly demanded in 2014-15 with no regard for actual public input.

By voting to rescind net neutrality, the FCC has placed control over the internet into the hands of big cable oligopolies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, imparting a massive blow to all digital denizens who are not majority shareholders of a major ISP. It comes at the expense of virtually every private citizen, online consumer, small business, large corporation, political organizations and anybody else who uses the internet to provide or receive goods, services, information or communication.

We went in to ask Yoder to perform his legislative duty to the people of Kansas and the people of the United States. We specifically asked the congressman to join the large bipartisan majority of voters and to sign the petition allowing a House vote to overturn the FCC, just as the Senate has already done.

Yoder has shown fortitude and a commitment to his constituents’ interest in the past. In fact, in early 2017, he attempted to defend us against the FCC’s repeal of digital privacy regulations, voting against allowing internet providers to sell their client’s personal online browsing history and usage information. He subsequently introduced and passed The Email Privacy Act.

Over the past two years I have met personally with various members of Yoder’s staff regarding net neutrality. I have held and attended three constituent meetings at his Overland Park office, and have even taken the time out of my work schedule to personally fly out to his Washington, D.C., office and meet with his staff there to try to affect their familiarity with the petition to overturn the FCC. Every staffer I have met with has been cordial and polite, but unable to offer a tangible commitment of Yoder’s position on the net neutrality issue. They have also failed to provide any follow up on the matter with me afterward.

The time has come to call this out. Tacitly avoiding this issue, and refusing to sign the petition is an answer in and of itself. It states quite transparently that Yoder has either been bought by, or chosen to side with, big cable special interests against small businesses and constituents in our district.

Businesses like ours drive the economy of our state. We rely on net neutrality to compete with our bigger rivals around the country and the world. Kansas need Kevin Yoder to sign the petition.

Matthew Friedman is the owner of SMB Logic, a digital marketing agency based in Kansas City.