The Federal Communications Commission’s Chairman, Tom Wheeler, has a highly suspect proposal out that is raising the hackles of the tech industry as well as Republicans and Democrats alike.
There is a scheduled vote on the proposal set for May 15 but Wheeler’s fellow Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, wants it delayed at least a month. In addition, a slew of tech powerhouses lead by Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have petitioned the Commission and call the proposal a “grave threat to the Internet.”
Wheeler keeps wheeling the proposal forward and has, apparently, been adamant about moving forward with the vote. And why is everyone up in arms? Because, this inane proposal gives ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast the option to charge for better and faster service for pay.
The good news is that Wheeler needs Rosenworcel’s support or it is unlikely he will get the votes necessary to move forward on his proposal. But, Wheeler – a former venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, with positions including President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) – is not daunted by opposition.
Yes, there is nothing more ridiculous in American politics in putting people with vested interests in charge of serving the public good by serving the narrow interests of powerful companies. And, not backing down when everyone is telling them that they are being a dick about the whole thing by practically selling the Internet to telecommunications and cable companies for nothing.
But this is also a bipartisan issue. According to Politico:
The FCC’s two Republicans are unlikely to support any network neutrality proposal, and the other Democratic commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, reiterated her opposition to “pay for priority arrangements” in a blog post Wednesday.
“There is no doubt that preserving and maintaining a free and open Internet is fundamental to the core values of our democratic society, and I have an unwavering commitment to its independence,” Clyburn wrote. “My mind remains open as I continue to evaluate how best to promote these fundamental, core values.”
This is the letter to Chairman Wheeler from the likes of Amazon, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Zynga. Wheeler is on his own with this proposal with no support from the public, fellow Commissioners, politicians, tech companies and the public. No, it won’t change a thing because, the guy worked for the very people he is helping with his proposals. Go figure.