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AOL: A Champion of the Internet

by Kathleen Monin

In the midst of Net Neutrality madness, it appears that one fearless hero, the one who will stop at nothing to save the Open Internet, is… AOL? Other internet providers, such as Verizon and Comcast, have made more lobbying moves. Internet giant Google has the biggest tech lobby in Washington, aside from the large internet service providers. But the one organization that has spent more effort than any other company or group in defense of Net Neutrality is America Online.

 

The Stats

As reported in the Daily Dot, The Sunlight Foundation released the results of a survey they took on companies’ stances and actions for or against Net Neutrality. AOL came just ahead of Google in the number of lobbying reports released between 2005 and 2013. Other organizations that scored high on the charts are Microsoft, Level 3 Communications, and Vonage. But even when combined, the reports released by these companies don’t compare to the efforts of Verizon and AT&T.

 

Buying Out the Internet

Together, anti-neutrality organizations have spent upwards $75 million dollars on lobby for the right to create “fast lanes” for the internet. Pro-neutrality groups have spent less than a third of that amount. Despite the efforts of AOL, Google and the other opposing tech companies, large service providers have pushed harder, longer, and more expensively. Their dedicated efforts of the large service providers seem to have swayed the key decision makers. The political debate rages on through a “Public Comment Period” that the FCC has established, welcoming opinions on the issue through July 15.

 

You’ve Got Mail!

Or perhaps, more customers? Regardless of the results of this Net Neutrality issue, this favorable action may help to increase AOL’s public relations. AOL has an “outdated” stigma, and is infamous for being the company that provided dial-up in the 90s, the company where you couldn’t use the phone and the internet at the same time. Last year AOL’s stock suffered a 22% decline, but perhaps this Open Internet karma can help turn them into a greater contender as an internet service provider.

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