Why Hasn't The Obama Administration Weighed In On The FCC's Net Neutrality Comment Period?
from the take-a-backseat-to-no-one? dept
Marvin Ammori has a good article over at Slate questioning why the Obama White House does not appear to have submitted comments with the FCC concerning net neutrality. As you know by now, the FCC received over 3 million comments when the commenting period finally closed on Monday — but so far, it does not appear that the Obama administration weighed in (it’s possible that not all comments are in the database yet, but still…). While you might think this isn’t a huge deal — Obama has said he supports net neutrality (indeed, campaigned heavily on it originally), Ammori notes that it is somewhat odd. The administration frequently does submit its own comments on other FCC issues:
While President Obama campaigned heavily on net neutrality and recently reiterated his support for it, he hasn?t filed a thing to the FCC. The president has alluded to the FCC being an independent agency, and therefore suggested he should not publicly encourage the commission to fulfill his campaign promises. Yet since becoming president, his Executive Branch has submitted more than 200 filings to the FCC in over 80 proceedings. (If you want proof, see this spreadsheet.)
If the administration were to file comments, it might come through a White House office, such as the National Economic Council or the Office of Science & Technology Policy, or the Commerce Department?s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). In 2009, the NTIA submitted comments telling the FCC that the ?NTIA expects to offer views on the issues presented in [the network neutrality] rulemaking at the appropriate time.? You would think that we have reached the appropriate time. But President Obama has stood largely silent while his FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, barrels toward dismantling an open Internet and threatening the entire economy that now rides atop it.
The commenting period seems like it would have been the appropriate time for at least some part of the administration to weigh in. Even with 3 million other comments, a comment coming from the administration would not get lost in the process. Instead, the President seems to be more or less admitting that his campaign promises on net neutrality were simply empty promises.
Obama has proclaimed that he ?will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality.? By not commenting in the FCC proceeding, the president has taken a back seat to dozens of tech companies, including Etsy, Kickstarter, Vimeo, Reddit, and Tumblr, the AARP, dozens of senators and members of Congress, and millions of people that have strongly filed or commented in favor of real, strong Title II network neutrality. It?s time for that to change.