As my colleague Anne Broache notes, Congressional Democrats are angry about a proposal endorsed by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) that would not give the FCC authority to enforce net neutrality regulations its adherents believe is necessary to ensure an open Internet.
An open Internet free of the preferential treatment, overt or hidden fees, and potential technological impediments big telecom and cable broadband Internet Service providers might place on services like VoIP that just might compete with their own offerings.
So I decided to check up on this here Joe Barton and his friends in the corporate world. The best way to do this is, as Deep Throat kept saying "follow the money." Best place to do so is on OpenSecrets.org.
You'll note on top that Rep. Barton's top contributor to the 2006 campaign cycle so far is Comcast Corp.- whose Digital Voice product competes with Vonage, Skype, and a whole host of IM-bred PC to PSTN products.
AT&T and MCI (now part of Verizon), seem to like this Joe, too.
And as to Joe Barton's friends in the previous, 2003-2004 campaign cycle:
SBC (now AT&T, headed by the net neutrality-opposing Ed Whitacre) was Number 2. Comcast was #3. The biggest telecom and the biggest cable broadband provider.
Not suggesting anything untoward here, but it might appear these companies - who never met a fee idea they didn't like, feel like they have a friend in Joe.