When I saw the New York Times notification pop up on my phone last night, “Obama Urges F.C.C. to Adopt Strict Rules on Net Neutrality,” I wasn’t convinced that what I read would make me happy. It wasn’t as clear as the Guardian’s headline, “Obama calls on FCC to make ‘strongest possible rules’ to protect net neutrality.”
YES! FINALLY!! This is the dude that I watched give a speech ten years ago at the DNC and thought, “Wow. This guy could be president.” A few years later, I was going door-to-door in my Obama T-shirt getting out the vote before his first term, cried for joy when he won, and again when he secured his second term early in the evening on 2012 election night.
Yesterday’s slam down on the likes of Comcast is also another step towards Obama’s 2008 campaign commitment to protect net neutrality.
Living part-time in the U.K. this past year, I often get asked, “So…what do you think of Obama?” I’ll be honest, my enthusiasm is not what it was. There are appointments, moves, and compromises he’s made that at times, make me feel like he’s selling out to corporations and the GOP.
The reality is, this guy and his administration have to make compromises each and every day. Our government’s generational design is a game of tit for tat, this for that, operated with a formula that makes “House of Cards” such a popular series because we all know that messed up, back-stabbing, toxic shit really does happen. For us to believe that he gets into the White House and waves a magic wand to make all the bad stuff go away, that all the remnants of Bush’s idiocracy suddenly disappear, and years of congressional narcism suddenly becomes smart and savvy is completely naive.
When Obama appointed Tom Wheeler, a former cable and wireless lobbyist, and former president of NCTA and CEO of CTIA, to replace Julius Genachowski as head of the FCC, my heart sank. It was yet another example of the revolving door on Capitol Hill. Despite “federal ethics rules,” loopholes enable wolves to run the hen house as corporate lobbyists are given power as government representatives. A potential wolf had just been put in charge of the future of our internet. As if Monsanto being in charge of our food supply wasn’t bad enough.
This is why Obama’s video fills me with such glee. Even after putting Wheeler in to run the FCC, Obama soon pushed him to maintain the preservation of an open internet. As yesterday’s NY Times wrote, “In May, the commission released a proposal that would maintain a light regulatory touch, which Mr. Obama said was not strong enough.”
Four million of us made our opinions to preserve net neutrality known on whitehouse.gov, but despite this, there were rumors that the FCC was going to do what they wanted anyway.
Whether Obama truly felt Wheeler was the right person for the job or whether he put him in power as part of a compromise, the recent video and follow up statement from the White House shows that he’s not backing down. I can only laugh at how ‘stunned’ the cable companies were by Obama’s ‘extreme’ net neutrality proposals, because they probably thought it was in the bag, believing Wheeler, who was one of them, would do their bidding in the formulaic way big company power writes our country’s legislation.
In the 90s all the way into the turn of the 21st century, the internet may have been an “information service,” as stated by David Cohen, EVP of Comcast, but it simply isn’t anymore. Innovation is moving at the speed of light as we enter a world where the ‘internet of everything’ will become more commonplace. It’s not just about being able to stream Netflix. In years to come, the internet will actually become as much of an expected utility as electricity or running water, granted, with a more complex piping infrastructure.
Online protests took place in September 2014 to protect Net Neutrality, including battleforthenet.com.
This is why Obama and his administration, which has been the most digitally progressive administration to date, is calling on the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband service as “common carrier” under Title II of the Telecommuncations Act.
The European Union already adopted a net neutrality law that restricts ISPs ability to charge for faster network access in April of this year. If the FCC and the corporate pawns in the Republican party like Ted Cruz, calling it the “Obamacare for the internet,” continue to move in favor of Comcast and Verizon, it will definitely hamper and hinder the United States as a country, the startups all the way to conglomerates the size of Google and Facebook, and our citizens in favor of stockholder returns and bottom line profits.
While Gizmodo called Cruz’s statement, “…disingenuous, chickenshit political maneuver and nothing more,” Oatmeal, whom we all know and love, gives a lesson in things Cruz should know before making a fucking ass out of himself in a public forum:
Thing is, we’ve all seen what happens when regulation is weakened or removed. We need only look at the banking and airline industries, to mention a few, to experience first hand what a mess things become after we trust industries and corporations to ‘do the right thing.’ That’s not in their DNA. But we can learn from history, hopefully.
To preserve the power of our internet as it exists today, we need more regulation, not less. This is not a time to compromise or embrace a so-called hybrid solution. There’s too much at stake. If Congress, which oversees the FCC and is now run by a majority of Republicans who traditionally favor coporate interests over the people, along with Democrats like Senators Shaheen, Begich, Hagan, Landrieu, and Pryor who have all received donations from the cable industry and do not support net neutrality, make moves to make net neutrality a thing of the past, the four million of us and beyond need to continue to stand up and fight for what is rightfully ours.
And hats off to Al Franken, who saw all this coming and stood in front of a number of us tech geeks, developers, programmers, entrepreneurs, and creative types during SXSW 2011, “The open internet allows the entrepreneurs in this room to be successful…People are desperate in D.C. Do not underestimate how much power you have. You may just be our last best hope for saving our economy.”
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