The headline in the Washington Post, "Obama's call for an open Internet puts him at odds with regulators",
is misleading. Yes, President Obama made one of his flowery speeches
supporting a free and equal internet but he was the one who appointed
industry lobbyist Thomas Wheeler to head the Federal Communications
The dissonance between Obama and Wheeler has the
makings of a major policy fight affecting multibillion-dollar
industries. The president wants clear rules to prevent Internet service
providers from auctioning the fastest speeds to the highest bidders, a
scenario that could favor rich Web firms over start-ups.
Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and telecommunications
industry, has floated proposals that aim to limit the ability of service
providers to charge Web companies, such as Netflix or Google, to reach
their customers. But critics have argued that his approach would give
the providers too much leeway to favor some services over others. [..]
But the move by the White House has put Wheeler in an
uncomfortable spotlight. The two men have long been allies. Wheeler
raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama's campaign and advised
the president on his transition into the White House. Obama last year
appointed Wheeler to lead the FCC as it was poised to tackle its biggest
issue in years - the rules that govern content on the Web.
A growing source of frustration for White House and congressional
Democrats is that they have three of their own on the five-member
commission at the FCC, a majority that should give them the power to
push through a policy of their liking. But if Wheeler charts a different
course, he could bring the other members along with him.
And, as Wheeler reminded participants at his meeting with Web
companies Monday, the FCC does not answer to the Obama administration.
The article states that Obama campaigned on Net Neutrality and,
according to aides, made the statement to energize his base of young,
tech-savvy progressives. Seriously? He does this now, after the drubbing
in the mid-terms? Now Obama wants to curry support of the Democrats in
Congress. What happened during the last six years?
And don't forget, he appointed Wheeler because they're friends.
According to The Washington Post, Wheeler met
with officials from Google, Yahoo and Etsy on Monday and told them he
preferred a more nuanced solution. Wheeler reportedly said: "What you
want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn't affect your
business. What I've got to figure out is how to split the baby." On
Monday, protesters called on Wheeler to favor net neutrality as they
blockaded his driveway when he attempted to go to work. Protests also
took place in a dozen cities last week after The Wall Street Journal reported the FCC is considering a "hybrid" approach to net neutrality.
This would apply expanded protections only to the relationship between
Internet providers and content firms, like Netflix, and not to the
relationship between providers and users. We discuss the ongoing debate
over the Internet's future with Steven Renderos of the Center for Media Justice.
There is only one person to blame if the FCC sides with the industry, Barack Hussein Obama, shill for the 1%.