Diametrically Opposed FCC Commissioners Both Agree That Tom Wheeler Should Pull Back On Net Neutrality Rule Making

from the think-this-through dept

So last night we wrote about over 100 internet companies asking Tom Wheeler, to rethink his plans for his open internet "net neutrality" rule making -- warning that proposed rules that harm an open internet would be a very bad thing. In that post, we mentioned that FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel had asked Tom Wheeler to delay his plan to push forward with the rulemaking, but that Wheeler intended to move forward anyway. This morning, the pile-on against Wheeler continued, starting with a fantastic letter from over 50 venture capitalists who invest in the internet space, warning what bad rules will do to innovation and the economy (a letter they put together in less than a day).

And then another FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai, also asked Wheeler to hold off and not offer up his open internet rules at the meeting next week. It would be big in general to see two FCC commissioners directly asking the FCC chair to hold off, but it's especially noteworthy that it's Pai and Rosenworcel doing this -- as they tend to come at things from the opposite end of the spectrum (FCC-ish pun not intended). Pai is a Republican commissioner and Rosenworcel is a Democratic one -- and they generally don't agree on much, policy wise. In fact, it's unlikely they agree on why these rules should be stalled -- but at least they both realize that rushing forward with half-baked rules are a serious problem.

For about a decade now, I've argued that one of the reasons why net neutrality became a "toxic" issue was because it became a partisan issue. In the early days it wasn't, but somewhere in the mid-2000s, it suddenly became a "Democratic" issue, and Republicans started attacking it. And that just killed any rational discussion about keeping an open internet. Perhaps, now that the issue is finally getting renewed attention, we can get passed partisan bickering and focus on making sure that the internet actually remains open, with greater competition, and continued freedom to innovate.



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  • icon
    Manabi (profile), 8 May 2014 @ 1:21pm

    This is really making Wheeler look like a tool of industry

    I know when Wheeler was appointed a lot of people were concerned about his past being an industry lobbyist. His continuing to push these horrible rules forward, and now with two diametrically opposed commissioners asking him to slow the hell down, just makes him look like a totally bought and paid for tool of industry.

    I doubt there's anything he can do to change people's opinions of him going forward either. The Internet community simply will not trust him on anything now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 8 May 2014 @ 1:23pm

      Re: This is really making Wheeler look like a tool of industry

      This is really making Wheeler look like a tool.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        art guerrilla (profile), 8 May 2014 @ 4:15pm

        Re: Re: This is really making Wheeler look like a tool of industry

        you didn't read the 'sad but true' repost i did about the 'new aristocracy', did you ? ? ?

        in short: The They (tm) really don't give a shit, they're taking all our shit, and we aren't saying shit, are we ? ? ?
        'cause we're all scared shitless...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Namel3ss (profile), 8 May 2014 @ 5:01pm

        Re: Re: This is really making Wheeler look like a tool of industry

        My thoughts exactly.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2014 @ 2:00pm

      Re: This is really making Wheeler look like a tool of industry

      "I doubt there's anything he can do to change people's opinions of him going forward either."

      This presumes he cares. He's "Got the Power", or at least that arrogant syndrome.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Philly Bob, 9 May 2014 @ 5:38am

        Re: This is really making Wheeler look like a tool of industry

        Not only the power, but I'm quite sure he has the cash backing of the bigwigs. As long as he's set for life, he couldn't give a rat's ass about what others think.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2014 @ 7:41pm

      Re: This is really making Wheeler look like a tool of industry

      This is a good thing.
      After all, he IS a tool of Industry.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 8 May 2014 @ 1:31pm

    Of course

    "In the early days it wasn't, but somewhere in the mid-2000s, it suddenly became a "Democratic" issue, and Republicans started attacking it."

    Anything, literally anything the Democrats take up as a cause, the GOP will oppose. They wanted to stop Obama from being re-elected at any cost.

    Democrats, "We like air!"
    GOP, "Well we don't, you socialist scum!"

    Perhaps if the Democrats should pick a cause they really want to pass, declare the opposite, and when the GOP predictively opposes is, cave in, say "yep you're right" and get passed what they want passed.

    It would be nice if there was a sensible party that passed laws to benefit the majority of citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2014 @ 1:41pm

      Re: Of course

      I don't see a party like that getting any traction because without controversy, most voters just ignore what's going on.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 8 May 2014 @ 1:42pm

      Re: Of course

      From what I've heard, I believe the Pirate party would qualify, just need to get them into more governments, replace the current parties with some fresh blood.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        observer, 8 May 2014 @ 2:06pm

        Re: Re: Of course

        I'm voting for them in the European election (NW England) later this month. It's my first time voting in an election with one of their candidates. They genuinely look like the best choice, not just for their stand on online freedom but across the board.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Pragmatic, 9 May 2014 @ 6:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Of course

          What That One Guy and observer said. Please, please vote Pirate in the European elections. We are neither left nor right wing, and we're all about the public good.

          I believe that if Americans see us doing well in Europe, they're likely to give us a chance back home. You know that third party with the middle-path views you were waiting for? Here it is. /plug

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2014 @ 1:32pm

    Wheeler really underestimated the backlash

    It started out slower then I liked, but Wheeler really underestimated the backlash to his proposals.

    I bet that the lines for an against this are falling more by age and how tech savvy people are based on the bi-partisan opposition. I don't know of any serious tech people that support the death of net neutrality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2014 @ 4:14pm

      Re: Wheeler really underestimated the backlash

      I keep looking at this and thinking that Wheeler knew exactly what he was doing; either a) there's no opposition, the rules go through, things go to hell in a handbasket and he can release net neutrality rules with no opposition, or b) there's a groundswell of bipartisan opposition that trumps the squabbling we've seen so far, and all sides push for some sane rules surrounding net neutrality.

      If he'd just gone and tried to accomplish what he really intended, it would have been derailed by someone or other in short order.

      The fact that he was a lobbyist for so long makes me think this is even more likely the case -- he knows how the game is played.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2014 @ 1:59pm

    Grammar NAZI

    get passed should be "get past"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jimbo23, 8 May 2014 @ 2:30pm

      Re: Grammar NAZI

      "Perhaps if the Democrats should pick a cause they really want to pass, declare the opposite, and when the GOP predictively opposes is, cave in, say "yep you're right" and get passed what they want passed."

      "Passed" spelling was correct in context just fyi... Can't vouch for all the grammar tho! Why didn't you jump on "predictively"? That is quite wrong...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2014 @ 2:59pm

    if he has been 'encouraged' to move forward, regardless of the damage his ideas are going to do, he will move forward! he is the sort of man that takes no notice of anyone else, he certainly wont take any advice and after it's too late and the tiered internet that every other country is avoiding like the plague, knowing how it will inevitably damage the internet, has been introduced and the entertainment industries have got their way, which is exactly what they have been working for all these years, he will just poo poo it all off, passing the blame on to whoever is in the way!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2014 @ 3:26pm

      Re:

      Normally I would agree, but one other commissioner - Mignon Clyburn also had some concerns about this. That leaves Wheeler and the other guy in the minority.

      How is this going to pass when it comes to voting next week?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bshock, 8 May 2014 @ 3:57pm

    An open letter to Tom Wheeler

    Dear FCC Chairman Wheeler:

    Your former work as a cable lobbyist makes your position at the FCC the cliched fox watching the henhouse. If we define justice in terms of American consumers, the very fact that you were appointed to FCC chairmanship was fundamentally unjust.

    Now you have taken the insultingly sarcastic step of proposing to break Net Neutrality while still calling it "Net Neutrality." It seems that the fox has decided to protect hen safety by turning the henhouse into a butcher shop.

    You should never have been given this job. If you had a shred of decency, you would never have accepted this job. If you had even the faintest echo of a conscience, you would never have tried to use this job to destroy the Net Neutrality that you were supposed to be protecting.

    Please resign. Don't wait -- resign now. We don't care how you rationalize it. By all means, say whatever you have to say in order to save face. Please just resign as chairman of the FCC and do so immediately.

    Sincerely,

    American media consumers, the people who you should have always been watching out for

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2014 @ 7:15pm

    It definitely does seem like Tom Wheeler, is trying to ram this through as fast as possible. Almost like he can sense the net neutrality debate heating up, and he doesn't like where it's going.

    Which is exactly what this The Verge article says the FCC, Congress, and regional broadband monopolies fear the most. Fear of a public debate on net neutrality.

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/25/5431382/the-internet-is-fucked

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whatever, 9 May 2014 @ 4:18am

    rally cry

    I guess net neutrality is the hot button issue of the week around here. It's funny because for the most part, net neutrality is a vague, unformed concept of a sort of internet commune where everyone works and everyone gets enough bytes to fill their tummy each day.

    Most of the scary stories come up with the old "pay extra for cnn.com" or "pay to access Google!", which is a crock.

    What the FCC has proposed is pretty much "all the internet you have now, and more if someone wants to pay for it". In other words, you current service is a baseline, and it only improves from there. That Netflix as an example pays for more connectivity because they are a popular service and bandwidth hog does not stop a competing service from starting up, operating, and one day maybe becoming as big a bandwidth hog. Then they too can pay for better connectivity if they want it (and have a business model that supports it).

    Nobody is going to take anything away from you.

    If you want to push net neutrality, start by working out what it really is. Not vague feel good "equal access for all" sloganism, but rather in practical terms what it means.

    As an example, might it be a good thing to start looking at regulating bandwidth ratios for ISPs? If they install 5 meg DSL as their service, how many of those consumers can be connected by a 1 gig fiber to their central office? How much peered connectivity should they have? Should major bandwidth users (like Netflix) by "taxed" to support additional bandwidth at the receiving end? Should web hosting companies and such be required to charge higher fees for "provider" end sites and more heavily discount services to ISPs serving the final mile?

    Rather than being vague, be specific. How do you see it working out so it's fair to everyone, and doesn't require ISPs to incur huge additional bandwidth costs to keep up with heavy bandwidth services?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2014 @ 6:37am

      Re: rally cry

      "If you want to push net neutrality, start by working out what it really is. Not vague feel good "equal access for all" sloganism, but rather in practical terms what it means."

      1. Regional last-mile broadband monopolies need to be broken up, allowing more competition in the list-mile broadband market.

      2. If #1 is not possible, then regional last-mile broadband monopolies need to be classified as public utilities, like the gas, electric, telephone, and water monopolies.

      3. Regional last-mile residential broadband providers can't use their monopoly to act as 'gatekeepers', by leveraging their monopoly to refuse augment their interconnections with 3rd party transit providers. Or leverage their monopoly in order to charge transit providers exorbitantly high fees for access to their last-mile residential broadband customers.

      Those are the three things I want to see come out of this net neutrality debate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 9 May 2014 @ 9:00am

      Re: rally cry

      "Nobody is going to take anything away from you."

      True, in a sense. They'll just do what they did to extort money from Netflix. They'll let the existing system degrade to the point where it forces everyone else to pay extra just to get the same substandard, overpriced service they get right now.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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