Net Neutrality Fans Seek Meeting With Obama

Net Neutrality advocates are continuing to try and leverage recent open Internet comments by President Barack Obama in their efforts to get the FCC to reclassify Internet access under Title II regs.

Former FCC chairman Michael Copps, now an advisor to Common Cause, and Free Press president Craig Aaron have written the White House seeking a meeting with the President on the issue.

Speaking at a U.S.-Africa Business Forum Aug. 5, the President warned about "big, wealthy media companies" providing differentiated Internet service depending on the ability to pay, suggesting that could stifle innovation.

In the letter, Copps and Aaron praised the comments, while expressing their concern about the FCC's proposal to use Sec. 706 broadband deployment authority to justify new open Internet rules, rather than Title II. "We do not seek a meeting lightly, knowing the incredible demands on your time. If we thought it was anything less than urgent, we would not do so," they said.

"The proposal would permit Internet service providers to bifurcate the network into fast lanes for the few who can pay and slow lanes for the rest of us," they said. "Gatekeeper control over whether and how people can access information makes a mockery of the dynamic nature of the Internet, stifles innovation, and jeopardizes our civic dialogue. Moreover, we must safeguard Internet openness to ensure it remains a platform for civic and technological innovation."

Wheeler has signaled that fast and slow lanes would not meet the commercially reasonable standard for discrimination he has proposed using, on the advice of a federal court, to create legally sustainable rules against unreasonable discrimination.

"Our nation’s Internet future is on the line, and a wrong decision now will inflict irreparable damage to a platform that is central to our economic and social progress," Copps and Aaron wrote. "We request a meeting to discuss how to solidify open Internet protections."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.