What does it cost to buy the vote of a Republican West Virginia senator or congressman?
On Tuesday, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed and sent to the president a bill which further weakened your online privacy. From Gizmodo:
The House of Representatives voted today to repeal rules preventing internet service providers from selling their customers’ web browsing and app usage data without explicit consent. The Senate passed the same bill last week, which means the only obstacle that remains is a signature from President Trump—and the White House has already signaled he will do so.
What was the need or justification for the bill?
Lawmakers provided no credible reason for this being in the interest of Americans, except for vague platitudes about “consumer choice” and “free markets,” as if consumers at the mercy of their local internet monopoly are craving to have their web history quietly sold to marketers and any other third party willing to pay.
Who, then, was in favor of the bill?
The only people who seem to want this are the people who are going to make lots of money from it. (Hint: they work for companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.) Incidentally, these people and their companies routinely give lots of money to members of Congress.
Yesterday, The Verge followed up on their explanation by publishing a list of the senators and congressmen who voted for the bill along with the dollar amount that the telecoms gave them in their last election campaign.
West Virginia's congressional delegation:
- $24,675 Senator Shelley Moore Capito
- $24,500 Representative David McKinley
- $10,000 Representative Evan Jenkins
- $6,000 Representative Alex Mooney
(Note -- Senator Manchin is not on the list. He, like most Democrats, voted against the legislation.)
And for those readers who live across the Ohio River:
- $56,500 Representative Bill Johnson (Congressmen apparently cost more in Ohio.)
I could find no explanation or justification for McKinley's or Capito's vote. I'm especially disappointed in Capito -- she has been working hard to bring high-speed internet access to the rural, underserved parts of West Virginia. I would hope that her motives for pressing for broadband for rural West Virginians go beyond insuring that some telecom can make a profit selling their personal usage data.