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Progressive PAC Slams Wheeler

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, founded by former MoveOn organizer Adam Green, wants FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to move on as well if he allows the division of the Internet into fast and slow lanes—which he has said he does not plan to do.

On Thursday it circulated a link to a video back in 2007 showing then-candidate Barack Obama saying on MTV that he would only appoint FCC commissioners who support net neutrality, suggesting his choice for chairman had not upheld that pledge.

Wheeler last week circulated a draft of new network neutrality rules that had been thrown out by the court, but got grief from the Progressive Change PAC and others who complained those new rules would allow the Internet to be divided into fast and slow lanes.

Wheeler said this week there would be no forcing of anyone into slow lanes. But the court that remanded the rules back to the FCC made it clear that new rules would need to allow for differentiation of service unless the FCC wanted to classify Internet access under Title II common carrier regulations. Wheeler's draft does not go the Title II route, but he has threatened that as an option if necessary.

Wheeler has pointed out that the FCC won't be setting anything in stone with a planned May 15 vote on the draft rules. But he also points out that the D.C. Circuit remand was clear about how new rules might pass muster, and that he wants to get those new rules on the books as soon as possible.

While the old rules disallowed unreasonable discrimination, the new rule would allow discrimination based on a commercially reasonable standard. The FCC suggested in the old rules that paid priority probably would not pass muster as reasonable, and under the new "commercially reasonable" standard for case by case analysis of discrimination, Wheeler signaled this week it would likely have a high bar as well.

Progressive Change was not appeased, launching a new web site and calling for Wheeler's resignation “so that the President can appoint someone who will stand up for Internet freedom.”

The chairman's office declined comment, referring a reporter to the White House. The White House had not responded to a request for comment at press time, put Progressive Change said it had gotten a response.

 "The FCC is an independent agency and we haven't seen the proposal yet," White House spokeswoman Katherine Vargas told the PAC, according to the group, "so I can't offer much beyond what we have said before: The President strongly supports net neutrality. The FCC Chairman has said that his goal is to preserve an open internet and that he has all the tools he needs to do it. We have been clear from the start that we support that goal and will be closely following these developments as the FCC launches its proceeding."