Our Politicians Are Too Old to Regulate the Internet

“Nobody’s got to use the internet.”

That was a hostile comment from U.S. Representative James Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, to a constituent concerned with internet privacy. Just weeks ago, GOP members of Congress, including Sensenbrenner, eliminated an Obama regulation that prevented internet providers from selling your personal data to outside companies.

It was a decision that voters of all political persuasions seemed to dislike, aside from the legislators and major internet service providers who stand to make a lot of money by selling their customers’ personal information for marketing purposes.

While it’s true that the internet is not a biological imperative, Sensenbrenner’s argument that he has no obligation to protect the rights of internet users since Americans could just choose not to use the internet if they wanted to shows how remarkably out-of-touch the 73-year-old is.

It may still be possible to avoid using the internet on a daily basis, but most people participating in the modern workforce or going through school know quite well that that’s not the reality they face.

The people most likely to avoid the internet with any frequency are those who came of age before technology: senior citizens. Alas, it’s the senior citizen population that runs the U.S. government – the average age of a congressperson is 58.

It’s true of the Supreme Court, too, where the average age is 67. As the internet becomes more omnipresent, the justices have had to make dozens of rulings to keep up with the technological advancements, all the while being quite honest about the fact that they barely understand email, Twitter and Facebook.

Then there’s President Donald Trump, age 70, who may be a prolific tweeter, but he refuses to use email except on rare occasions. He has assistants who keep track of his electronic correspondence, and even has them print out online articles so he can read it from a hardcopy.

Presumably, that’s how legislators like Sensenbrenner can pretend the internet isn’t important to their jobs – because they have staffers to do the web work for them. I guarantee their offices rely on the internet in hundreds of ways, and if his team collectively decided to “choose” to not use the internet, it would no longer be a functional operation.

Presumably, the noticeable age gap between our elected officials and Americans who rely on the internet every day is a big reason why we continually see them trying to regulate the internet in ways that just do not make sense. Remember SOPA and PIPA? It took ongoing, people-powered campaigns to convince legislators to finally kill that legislation.

To preserve the freedom of the internet, it’s going to be up to the younger generations to either start electing younger people with a better handle on the internet, or continually contact our representatives to let them know why these issues are so important.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

52 comments

ERIKA S
ERIKA SOMLAI3 months ago

noted

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Margie F
Margie F3 months ago

Only about 30% of the internet use is by humans. The rest is used by machines. Would hate to have 5 year olds running the place.

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ERIKA S
ERIKA SOMLAI3 months ago

noted

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Philippa P
Philippa P3 months ago

Thanks.

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Peggy B
Peggy B3 months ago

David F..... (typo site should read cite). I don't think you understand what net neutrality is . Europe has net neutrality and they are not communists. If you would like a simplified explanation go to https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~raylin/whatisnetneutrality.htm .

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Peggy B
Peggy B3 months ago

David F.... Site your source. What are your qualifications to make theses comments?

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Lisa M
Lisa M3 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M3 months ago

Noted.

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Steven W
Steven W3 months ago

Thank you for this information. We need more regulation for safty on the internet.

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Ron B
Ron B3 months ago

Heck, I'm 70 years old and even I know that the internet isn't a series of tubes. Right, Ted Stevens?...wherever you are post-mortem. (Since he was a Republican, it's most likely hell.)

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