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July 26, 2014 8:38 PM Internet issues can provide an object lesson for Democrats

By David Atkins

Good things do occasionally come out of Congress, even this one:

Consumers will soon be able to free their cell phones from the grip of wireless carriers thanks to legislation that Congress passed Friday allowing mobile devices to be unlocked.
President Barack Obama said he looked forward to signing the bipartisan measure that cleared the House, which the wireless industry had fought.
“The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget,” he said in a statement.

There are many issues surrounding wireless carriers and Internet circling the public policy arena, not least of which is net neutrality.

On a broader political note, though, broadband providers have made themselves such hated institutions on all sides of the American public that even Republicans have been forced to take the people’s side against them from time to time. Many libertarians favor net neutrality, and few people of any political persuasion believe that allowing carriers to lock phones is a good idea. Anger at Verizon has going viral with increasing evidence that the company has been throttling Netflix bandwidth.

Part of the challenge in politics is that so many issues seem disconnected from people’s immediate daily lives. But Internet policy dramatically affects people’s everyday lives, passions and entertainment choices. Republicans clearly seem open to taking a more populist stance on the subject, and Democrats should use it as an object lesson of how corporations abuse their power when left free to collude and engage in rent-seeking with a trapped consumer base.

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