Yesterday, Congress voted to bar the FCC from ever making a rule that limits how your ISP can spy on you and sell your data, without your permission.
265 Republican Congressjerks voted for the measure, having received some shockingly small sums from telcoms PACs and lobbyists, as little as $3,000 and not much more than $200K.
But the sums involved are deceptive. As Tim Wu pointed out in his prescient 2004 paper, "Copyright's Communications Policy," the efficacy of an industry's lobbying efforts has more to do with its unity than its spendiness. As industries mature, they become less competitive, and not just because a few clear winners emerge from the pack to dominate the industry, but also because along the way, the same major players all work together in different phases of their careers, setting up back channels with one another, intermarrying their kids, going on vacations together, and rotating in and out of regulatory and lobbying jobs.
Over time, they create a unified front that doesn't just spend in a coordinated fashion, but also converges on a single message. By contrast, the upstarts who challenge the industry are more chaotic, at one another's throats, dispersed and unable to form an effective opposition, even if they're spending on lobbying.
The long-term, unified spending and messaging from the telcoms sector is what makes the difference, in other words — not just the sums involved.
The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them
[T.C. Sottek/The Verge]