“I will take a back seat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way.” — Senator Barack Obama, November 14, 2007
As of yet, there has been no direct comment from the president who supported net neutrality as a candidate in California, just over six years ago.
Yesterday, The White House told The Hill that it is “‘still reviewing the court’s decision,” but won’t abandon the push to ensure that Internet providers treat all traffic the same,” including a statement from an unnamed government official:
“President Obama remains committed to an open internet, where consumers are free to choose the websites they want to visit and the online services they want to use, and where online innovators are allowed to compete on a level playing field based on the quality of their products.”
After yesterday’s ruling against the FCC, what happens next isn’t obvious, though there’s a growing chorus of commentary, predictions and advocacy.
Journalist John Hermann described a nightmare scenario and venture capitalist Fred Wilson mapped out a similarly dire future at his blog.
The man President Obama nominated to protect an Open Internet, Julius Genachowski, didn’t get the legal rulemaking around network neutrality right. Tim Wu and Jon Brodkin explain this effectively & succinctly. Nilay Patel is particularly unsparing in his analysis.
So, three things are clear:
1) If you’re reading this online — and by definition you are, given where I’m writing this — you should care about the issue. Here’s a quick FAQ from CNET on why.
2) The new FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, has a difficult decision ahead of him.
He was ambiguous about his position on the issue in his blog post about network neutrality.
3) There’s going to be a ruckus about this issue in DC in 2014.
Critics of the telecommunications industry and public interest advocates like Susan Crawford and Marvin Ammori are up in arms, advocating for the FCC to reclassify the Internet. Brian Fung mapped out a way for network neutrality to survivee. Hint: it involves more rulemaking and lawsuits.
Meanwhile, Congress is talking about whether 2014 is the year to rewrite the Telecommunications Act, the law written in 1934 and updated in 1996 that governs the space.
And so it goes.
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