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U.S. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before the House Communications and Technology panel on Capitol Hill in Washington December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS TRANSPORT BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTX16FJ9
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

At Thursday's Federal Communications Commission meeting on proposed net neutrality rules, Chairman Tom Wheeler said that "the prospect of a gatekeeper choosing winners and losers on the Internet is unacceptable." And yet, that's precisely what the FCC would be—a gatekeeper—no matter what rules the agency adopts. And if it determines to go forward with the proposal Wheeler seems to prefer, it will create a two-tiered internet, and there will be winners and losers.

But, as David Dayen argues, Wheeler has been moved, and has opened up a process for deciding this new rule that is much more encouraging to internet activists than any of us could have hoped for when the news of the proposed rule leaked a few weeks ago.

Under massive public pressure, the FCC has shown itself more responsive than Congress, opening up a legitimate debate over the rules. Tech firms have linked arms with the public against the Wheeler proposal. And what activists consider the only path to true net neutrality—reclassifying broadband Internet under Title II of the Communications Act as a common carrier service, allowing the FCC to regulate it like phone lines—has moved from an impossible dream to a more viable alternative.

People power did this—that allegedly outdated work of targeted mass organizing that isn’t supposed to make a difference in our increasingly oligarchical society. Over 3.4 million Internet users took action in some form against the FCC’s proposed ruled in the past three weeks, according to Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron. Dozens of protesters “occupied” the FCC, camping out for a week in tents, joined by hundreds in a mass rally today outside the meeting room.

People power appears to be working in Congress, too. In 2010, 74 Democrats wrote a letter to the FCC on behalf of the big telecoms, opposing net neutrality. This week, the telecoms could only muster 20 Democrats on a similar letter. Meanwhile, 34 other House Democrats signed on to the idea of reclassifying broadband as a public utility.

We've got four months to keep up that momentum, to make the FCC come around to realizing it is going to have to be a gatekeeper, and in that role, the commission has no business picking winners and losers. So let's keep pushing.

Please sign our petition to the FCC to keep a free and open internet.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri May 16, 2014 at 12:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (36+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Fri May 16, 2014 at 12:27:30 PM PDT

  •  I'm most encouraged by that democratic movement (5+ / 0-)

    look mom, better democrats!
    or is this, they can be taught!

  •  It's Not Between Winners and Losers It's Between (10+ / 0-)

    conquerors and losers.

    When the free market permits winners, they tend toward monopoly and squashing out most participation.

    Government protection of participation in a public commons doesn't prevent winning, it just prevents conquest.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri May 16, 2014 at 12:39:48 PM PDT

    •  Indeed. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie, Brown Thrasher

      It's like a game of King of the Hill, only someone conquers the hill and then builds a fortress with a moat full of gators.

      It's not competition if the one winning at the time rigs the game to stay on top.
      Play fair. If you lose your footing, you're no different than anybody else. Regroup and try again.

      "Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by Gentle Giant on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:38:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kind of O/T (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bigbenny

      I wonder if the crowd demonstrating at the FCC today is bigger than that of the Operation American Spring get-together on the national mall?

      "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

      by SueDe on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:25:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  more, please (7+ / 0-)
    Meanwhile, 34 other House Democrats signed on to the idea of reclassifying broadband as a public utility.
    To remind you, your broadband provider makes a choice as to how big each of its Internet pipes is, and by allowing some to congest, they are making an active decision to prefer some traffic over other traffic.http://blog.thinkbroadband.com/...

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri May 16, 2014 at 12:39:56 PM PDT

  •  Internet: Who Will Control The Future (5+ / 0-)

    No two tiered systm is acceptable, just let it alone, and please don't think we don't understand the vast quantity of wealth that will go to the upper group of the two tiered system.  Those who will get richer are already rolling in capital.  Starve this beast and protect the future for all users in the future, or at least for awhile.  

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilence

    •  Oh, I don't know (0+ / 0-)

      How about a system with a surcharge (and no extra speed) for any provider [note: not ISP] using more than 10% of total broadband in any one hour?

      •  Seems to me (0+ / 0-)

        that if your customers are calling for a lot of service from one provider then that's the service they are paying you to provide.
        If providing the service is too difficult for you, maybe you should charge more.

        If only there were some system whereby you could be replaced for providing too poor or too expensive service.

        Nah.  Impossible.

        "Our problem is not that the glass is half empty or half full, but that the 1% claims that it is their glass." ---Stolen from a post on Daily Kos

        by jestbill on Fri May 16, 2014 at 02:49:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why should the provider have to pay... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cybersaur

        for what the customer is already paying for?  If that >10% happened because a bunch of customers want to use it, how is that any of the ISP's darn business?

        Also, it's a bit of a fantasy to believe the ISP's would properly report who is and who isn't breaking a threshold.  They'd try to claim everyone is doing it and bill them all accordingly.

        •  Exactly. The customer should get to decide (0+ / 0-)

          who he or she gets to connect to and download from.

          If the pipe isn't big enough then manage the customers. Charge them extra if they want full speed at busy times, Add broadband caps.

          The ISP can charge their subscribers whatever they want and structure the payment however they want.

          What they must not be allowed to do is charge the services for the privilege of offering a service. Without net neutrality the internet gets turned into cable TV.

          In the UK the regulator made the telephone company spin off all the wires and connections into a separate company from the telephone and DSL internet services. There are a thousand companies offering telephone and DSL internet services over those wires and it takes a day for the wires and connections company to swop you over from one to another and doesn't need a home visit.

          See Local loop unbundling.

  •  sigh (0+ / 0-)

    Obama could write an executive order and clear this up in two seconds.

    TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (Celia Israel-D). Senate ratings map (as of 3/10/14)

    by Le Champignon on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:29:20 PM PDT

    •  Even if he could (4+ / 0-)

      and I don't know that it is actually that simple, executive orders can be easily undone by the next administration.

      We need a more robust and long-lasting solution.

    •  Not correct. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie

      the power to implement rules belongs to the FCC, which is semi-independent.  Unlike the cabinet or subcabinet agencies, whose leaders can be removed at will, the head of the FCC can only be removed for cause (and no, ideological disagreement is not cause).  Even if there were jurisdiction, a change that would alter the rights of private sector entities would have to go through notice and comment processes and be susceptible to court review.  This is why the comments and hearings by the FCC are part of the deal.  And you'd still have to address the question of whether the statute really does allow for reclassification as utilities, which I'm not sure is self-evident.  

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Fri May 16, 2014 at 02:27:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The POTUS can't really affect what the FCC does (0+ / 0-)

        except for general statements and such, it's on par with the SEC,NLRB,FED,CFTC,FBI etc.

        •  Obama is not helpless (0+ / 0-)

          He has the bully pulpit.   Imagine Obama going on television and saying

          "I'm the president who appointed Tom Wheeler, and I'm embarrassed by what he's doing to net neutrality.  This is NOT what appointed him to do."

          If Obama does that, Wheeler immediately gets a ton of heat both from the press and most of Congress, who will also go on TV to bash him.

          Bottom line is that if Obama wants to make Wheeler's life miserable, he can do that.   If he chooses not to, that's just another failure on his part.

  •  This guy used be a lobbyist for Telecom (5+ / 0-)

    What did they expect from him

  •  So. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbird, Mannie, Brown Thrasher

    There is hope.

    When the "civilian" Americans get involved, the right thing can be done.

    We hope.

    "Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by Gentle Giant on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:35:50 PM PDT

  •  Kossacks seem fascinated by the Kochs and (0+ / 0-)

    convinced that money buys elections and constitutes and unstoppable force.

    And yet -- with their attention caught and ire arroused, people repeatedly show where the true power lies.

    This battle can still be lost.
    The war?
    Hardly.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:42:19 PM PDT

  •  Proud of my senators Udall and Heinrich (9+ / 0-)

    both speaking out for Net Neutrality.  

    And, I'll take the opportunity to post THIS again:  think of it whenever you hear the phrase "Level Playing Field".

     photo fusefunny140509_zps3ef28a6b.gif

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:44:57 PM PDT

  •  OT: VA Undersecretary resigned. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, Mannie

    guardian via AP.

    Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki says he has accepted the resignation of Robert Petzel, the department's undersecretary for health care. Shinseki had asked for the resignation, a department official later said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution.

    The announcement came a day after both men were grilled at a four-hour hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, where lawmakers and veteran groups expressed exasperation of long-standing problems at the department.

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:48:49 PM PDT

  •  When I heard Tom Wheeler (R-Verizon) speak (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur

    he sounded like this to me.

    "I know that there is a lot of concern about hungry tigers interrupting our lunch. What I want to do is have lunch inside the tiger cage and serve lots of fresh meat. I will do everything in my power to make sure that the tigers inside the tiger cage with us will not eat our food, or eat us. You have my vow."

  •  Sorry to rain on everyone's "democracy wins" (0+ / 0-)

    party.

    To me, this was the key:

    Tech firms have linked arms with the public against the Wheeler proposal.
    .

    Maybe it's just been a long week ... year ... administration.

  •  Young voters who grew up with the Net need to be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher, bigbenny

    reminded by the old-timers what things were like back in the dial-up days.

    And to the rest: use analogies... Ask people to imagine water coming out of their kitchen faucet at half-pressure, because the car-wash down the street has paid extra for full pressure.

    Imagine flipping on the 60w lamp on their desk, and getting only a 40w glow, because the shopping mall has paid extra to light their parking lot at full illumination.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Fri May 16, 2014 at 02:23:01 PM PDT

    •  "Nice political blog you got there. Would be a..." (0+ / 0-)

      Are you suggesting a kind-hearted person like Comcast corporation would intentionally allow unpaid network service to degrade whilst badgering having their sales people reach out to Internet businesses to pay for faster, more reliable connectivity?!?

      +++ The law is a weapon used to bludgeon us peasants into submission. It is not to be applied to the monied elite.

      by cybersaur on Fri May 16, 2014 at 06:29:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is good news (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher

    I hope he momentum lasts.

  •  they are all running like it's 2010 (0+ / 0-)

    because they ain't done nuthin to speak of.

    the party of NO. as in NO good.  

  •  Hope you're optimism is deserved. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur

    4 months from now is September. And, while no time is a an acceptable time to end net neutrality, a few weeks before the election would spell disaster. I hope some people in the establishment get that.

    Net neutrality, KXL, safety net. All electoral landmines.

    Some may say KXL is not because it is "popular." Remember this, all for whom it is not popular, are either D's or potential D's... It wouldn't hurt the R's, but it would be for D's.

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:20:45 PM PDT

  •  Fast Lanes for All (0+ / 0-)

    Back in the '30s, the federal government funded the electrification of rural America.  The FCC should take the lead in establishing fast internet service all across the nation.  There should be a tierless system with no faster, fast, slow, slower lanes.  The internet was not invented, researched or developed by the corporations who are now making a profit.  They do not own the internet.  It was researched and developed by the American people through their Federal government.  A for profit corporate use fee should be charged to these for profit corporations as a method of paying us back.  The fee would be used to pay for a faster internet service open to all.  

    •  This is not the FDR era FCC (0+ / 0-)

      Common carriage was a truly democratic concept.   It ended with the FCC under Powell.

      hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

      by Stuart Heady on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:54:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need to pay close attention (0+ / 0-)

    My take on what the commissioners said was that there is likely to be some fine print to this we should be paranoid about.

    This could turn out to be a bait and switch in plain sight.

    The FCC is an aloof institution with people who think they are smarter than anyone else.

    They may screw us and think they have done a really great and liberal thing.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:50:56 PM PDT

  •  The Voice FCC needs to hear and HEED is Obama's (0+ / 0-)

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