Today, President Obama sided with
you and I. Like most of you reading
this (sadly, not all), “Barry” wants
his Internet free and open, just like
it is right now. Barry wants to be
able to check his stock quotes and
brag his holdings up via Facebook,
just like he can (but probably
doesn’t) today. though the FCC
doesn’t necessarily have to heed his
words any more than they would
yours or mine, the leader of the free
world siding with his constituents
makes a bolder statement than any
— well, statement.
With Obama taking a stand against
the proposed tiered, costly — and,
I’m sorry, just plain stupid — new
thinking on Internet connectivity,
we’ve got a big proponent for
keeping things the way they are.
Sadly, that’s all we’ve got.
Obama’s statement and
accompanying proposal for how
things ought to be is a loosely
formed plan of action that amounts
to the President boiling down the
way most citizens feel: keep the
Internet open, keep it free from
tiered charging, and definitely don’t
have “fast” or “slow” lanes of traffic.
Almost immediately, Senator Ted
Cruz called Obama’s plan
“Obamacare for the Internet”.
Verizon called it a “radical reversal
of course”. Senator John Thune calls
Obama’s thinking “stale”.
Thune also called net neutrality a
“politically corrosive policy debate”.
He’s right.


Thune is right because the FCC
doesn’t answer to any Senate or
Congressional oversight. The
positioning of politicians with regard
to net neutrality is just that, a forum
in an attempt to win votes with their
constituents or toe the party line
(both Cruz and Thune are
President Obama’s words should
spark discussion, and that’s the real
benefit. At the core of the FCC’s
decision on net neutrality is if they
should regulate Internet Service
Providers as a utility — and if so,
how? Many who champion net
neutrality (remember, that’s keeping
things as-is) want the FCC to
reclassify Internet Service Providers
(ISPs) under the Telecommunications
Act of 1934, where Title II would
take effect. If the FCC did as much,
they’d have stronger oversight on
ISPs, and could thwart any effort on
their part to create a tiered service
to fill their pockets.
The forum for the discussion is the
so-called “last mile” of the Internet.
That’s a colloquialism for your
receipt of Internet content, i.e. an
ISP feeding the content to you.
What Obama has done, in essence,
is make net neutrality into a
boilerplate issue. He’s saying “of
course the Internet should be free
and open”, which is hard to really
argue, as that’s how we find
ourselves reading articles like this
one and searching for cat videos now
(which you should do immediately
after reading SlashGear).
Obama has created a big obstacle
for opponents of net neutrality to
overcome, too, and that was the
point. Though he has no actual
oversight of the FCC, he’s still the
President of the United States. His
words and position have meaning,
regardless of how you feel about
The net neutrality stance by Obama
does two things well: it gives
proponents a solid supporter, and
puts up a pretty solid wall for
opponents to throw stones at. The
Internet as we find it today is an
infrastructure more than it is a fun
tool for finding cat videos (but,
really, search for some after this), so
it’s not something anyone should
take lightly.
Obama has basically created a bit of
a fork in the road for the FCC.
If the FCC sticks to their guns and
re-classifies ISPs, they can look to
Obama’s position as one that’s hard
to argue with, and lean on it as
fodder for their stance against
companies like Verizon. Doing so
would also give the FCC better
oversight with ISPs should
something go awry later on. The
President’s prodding of the FCC has
a lot of weight, and even if he’s just
another Internet user, he’s made his
We’re just waiting for the FCC to
make theirs.


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