The Obama Administration punting on an issue? The petition to force the Obama Administration to address net neutrality received the expected boilerplate response. The administration supports an open and free Internet, but defers to the FCC to draft the rules. I almost thought it was Friday when I saw the statement come across. Normally these type of ducks are part of a news dump.
For now, the public is having to wait while FCC Chairman Wheeler drafts new rules in the wake of his defeat in the Verizon v. FCC decision. New rules include drafting sufficient legal rationales against blocking or data roaming discrimination, holding ISPs accountable to the 2010 Open Internet Order, and soliciting public input. In case Chairman Wheeler missed the outrage, the public wants him to classify ISPs as common carriers. There’s your public input.
In addition to the new draft, the FCC will not appeal the ruling in the Verizon case. Instead, they want to push forward with the new draft. Wheeler is pushing back against the assertions that he is on the side of telecoms in the fight for or against net neutrality. If he is truly representing the people, then the empty words of relying on the 2010 Open Internet Order are just that. Empty. The order was largely invalidated in the Verizon case.
Unless the FCC plans to throw a few more rules in the draft, it stands lacking. Couple that with the anti-trust concerns the Comcast-TWC merger brings to bear, and the Internet will be a rapidly changing landscape in the next few years. Wheeler’s plan is to regulate on a case-by-case basis. If that sounds wholly inefficient, it is because it is. It is paying lip service to the net neutrality advocates.
As a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, public advocacy groups should not expect much from the current FCC chair. In politics, the term is money well spent.