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Net Neutrality announcement tees up court battle

Net Neutrality announcement tees up court battle

This is far from over

Say hello to the FCC’s newly-dubbed “New Rules for Protecting the Open Internet”.

From The Hill:

Tom Wheeler, head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced Wednesday that he will be circulating to his colleagues the “strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC,” made up of “enforceable, bright-line rules.”

The proposal will ban Internet service providers such as Comcast or Verizon from blocking or slowing access to content online. It will also ban “fast lane” deals that speed up online services, and extend the rules to cellphones and tablets for the first time.
“My proposal assures the rights of Internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission,” Wheeler wrote in an op-ed in Wired.

The decision by Wheeler is a reversal from last year, when he was pursuing a plan that critics warned could lead to a “two-tiered Internet,” with some companies cutting deals to operate in the “fast lanes.”

This is a different result than many anticipated; Wheeler had been working for months on a compromise solution that would have maintained “light touch” regulations on internet providers, in sharp contrast with the agenda President Obama backed. The White House threw its full support behind the regulations that were announced today, and ginned up support for them though months of secretive meetings with online activists, startups, and telecomm companies.

In a piece for the New Republic, David Dayen explains how liberal activists achieved a serious coup on the issue of Net Neutrality. You should read the whole thing, but this is perhaps the most relevant snippet:

Activists took advantage of splits between Wheeler and fellow Democratic commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, who were more hesitant than Wheeler to approve Internet fast lanes. It’s an open secret that Rosenworcel wants to become FCC chair someday. So activists understood that targeting Democratic members of Congress, who could eventually have a say in confirming Rosenworcel, would be another way to reach her. In the end, Congress offered more support for Title II reclassification than ever before, and Rosenworcel clearly heard this. In fact, Wheeler’s plan for “hybrid” Title II authority, focused on access issues rather than things like rate-setting, looks most like a proposal from former Congressman Henry Waxman.

Wheeler became less the leader of the FCC than the swing vote; if he wanted to pass anything resembling net neutrality, his options were limited beyond Title II reclassification. He found himself trapped by his prior statements of steadfast support for an open Internet, much as President Obama was constrained by a similar history.

Obama announced his support for reclassification in November as the only way to attain true net neutrality; his handpicked chairman could hardly try to peddle anything less than that and get away with it. This allows Obama to pocket a victory at a time when the last two years of his presidency will be marked by playing defense against a Republican Congress. If he wants to leave a legacy in the twilight of his term, it will have to happen at the agency level. Activists understood this and urged the president to make his position known to Chairman Wheeler, and they succeeded.

So, there it is. At least they’re honest about the means they’re willing to embrace to achieve their end goal.

Dayen is right, though. This was a coup. A coup that received national attention and held the tech community, conservative and liberal, in thrall for years. Even now, with so much information out there, the pro-NN cause is hard to fight because so many of the biggest voices in the opposition don’t truly understand how these policies would affect the average American.

Pro-NN activists understand that it’s not over yet, but they’re confident that if they can move forward from agency regulations to legislation, they’ll have a better chance of making sure these policies are here to stay.

Conservatives, however, are drawing a connection between what Wheeler has done with tech policy, and what SCOTUS dinged the EPA for doing in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency:

“Tom Wheeler just shot himself in the foot,” said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. “He just admitted that what the FCC is doing is effectively rewriting the law to suit its political agenda. Just last year, the Supreme Court blocked the EPA from doing much the same thing. The FCC was always going to face a difficult court fight, but Wheeler’s grandiose framing makes it even more clear that the FCC is heading for its third loss in court on net neutrality.”

“Wheeler has flip-flopped on two clear promises,” continued Szoka. “First, during his confirmation, Tom Wheeler promised Congress he’d seek Congressional authorization if the FCC lost in court. Now, he’s thwarting ongoing Congressional attempts to resolve the issue. Second, when the FCC proposed its rules, Wheeler promised that interconnection ‘is a different matter that is better addressed separately.’ Now, he’s expanding the concept of net neutrality beyond anything it’s ever meant. What’s next on the FCC’s slippery slope?”

Long story short: this isn’t over. The battle over Net Neutrality is just one piece of the war against excessive government regulation.

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Classic prog/socialist misdirection. This is not about “access” or anything else the Obama lackey is spouting. It’s about a TAX INCREASE on everybody that uses the internet. Oh, that would include YOU! A “utility” gets utility TAXES. So expect about a 30% INCREASE in your ISP bill. So that will raise about $50 billion. Not very much when Obama is going to spend, with “Republican” approval 4,000 BILLION dollars in one year. He is running out of money to pay for his prog/socialist utopia and he can’t raise taxes on his CRONIES. Obama doesn’t want to end up with lines for toilet paper until he is OUT of office. Assuming he intends to leave office, that is.

legacyrepublican | February 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm

If Wheeler gets anymore aggressive in marketing his agenda down our throats, I fully expect him to start saying “Can you hear me now?” at every interview he gives.

Why, how very fascist of him.

Who has the pot on Teh Won coming out and saying it doesn’t go far enough?

Reminds me of Reagan’s quip about the scariest words ever spoken: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”!

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to MarkS. | February 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Actually those used to be the scariest words.

    Now the scariesst words are “Hi. I’m a Comcast Service Representative. I’m calling to see how we can help you improve your service.”

So, preexisting conditions like Netflix and other bandwith hogs, including pornography producers, will be charged the same rate as other users. Net Neutrality sounds like ObamaGreed/Care for his donors in the network space. Another financial scheme to purchase good perceptions.

Why not just go full communist and cut out the middleman?

Or, better yet, Marxism, and acknowledge the state’s established religion or moral philosophy (i.e. coercion) and faith in mortal gods. It’s not that he can be mistaken for respecting individual dignity and the abortion of over one million wholly innocent human lives annually confirms his religion’s regard for human rights. Left-wing regimes are brutal, but Atheist left-wing regimes have committed violations only comparable to left-wing Islam, and as a universal (i.e. global or imperial) faith over a shorter period. Have faith in mortal gods.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to n.n. | February 6, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Netflix growth quickly came to take 30% of all bandwidth. Comcast objected. Netflix and Comcast reached a deal. Netflix pays for its bandwidth and “hogs” nothing.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Henry Hawkins. | February 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Your partially right. Netflix ( and Youtube, and Ustream — anyone watch live streams off the Ferguson riots, and Skype and … ), paid for the capacity to use 30% of the internet.

      Then when Netflix actually tried to use the 30% capacity that they were sold the ISPs freaked out and tried to renogotiate their deals.
      Eventually Comcast and Netflix did just that.

Hey, Collectivist gotta collectivize.

Funny that the BIG GOVERNMENT model is MOST threatened by the free intercourse between INDIVIDUALS that the interwebs provide.


    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Ragspierre. | February 6, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Actually it’s too late to collectivize.

    It already happened with the Telecommunications Act of 199whatever.
    When the government passed regulations that effectively took the internet away from the small businesses that worked hard to bring internet to small and midsized businesses and the home, and gave it to AT&T and Comcast.

    BTW the same AT&T that tried to choke off BBSs, the precursor to the internet.

I’ll take a free market on the net and among ISPs over a “helpful” government any day, anytime, anywhere. Once DC gets its hooks into the net, they’ll never let go and one more freedom will be gone.

I am hopeful the court battles will last long past the end of Obama’s term and that there is no enabling legislation. Further, none of the three Democrats should ever be reconfirmed to the FCC, eve.