Saturday, February 14, 2015

No Neutrality On This Issue

Tom Wheeler is a very nice guy.
Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has proposed a new set of rules to govern the Internet, preserving the neutrality of the service and issuing strong rules that will keep major telecommunication corporations from controlling the Web.
The Republican leaders in Congress, however, are not nice guys.  They're advocating bills that would keep Uncle Charlie (the old trucker-slang phrase for the FCC) from regulating the Net as if it were a public utility (which it is, really), insisting that these regulations would limit the ability of such corporations to "innovate" . . . meaning, that these corporations would be banned from innovating slower Internet speeds for most of us and faster downloads for larger Internet content providers!  
Wheeler's plan would regulate Internet service the same way that telephone service is. It would take advantage of Title II of the 1934 Communications Act by assuming broad authority for the FCC to ban providers from manipulating online content. Because he's compromised on the issue of price controls - he won't pursue them - Wheeler believes that the rules he's suggested would not discourage industry investment, and he'd also refrain from applying sections of the law that don't refer to broadband.
This is a more moderate approach to regulation than most liberals would have wanted, but it at least preserves the idea that everyone who uses the Internet should have an equal playing field and all content on the Internet - including content generated by bloggers like myself - ought to be accessed easily and quickly.  Half a loaf is better than nothing, and nothing is exactly what the GOP and its corporate benefactors want.  But President Obama is behind Wheeler's plan, and he will likely veto any Republican attempt to stop Uncle Charlie - and his veto will likely be sustained.  Republicans are definitely going to lose on this one, despite their attempts to characterize the Wheeler plan as a "government takeover of the Internet" (it really isn't), because their position will offend more voters than it will attract . . . if it attracts any voters.       

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