On Tuesday, as Joan discussed, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski released his long awaited proposal for FCC rule-making on Net Neutrality. The proposal was widely panned by open Internet advocates. Josh Silver of Free Press called it “fake Net Neutrality,” and leading Internet free speech lawyer Marvin Ammori simply called it “garbage.” Further, big telecom companies were supportive, which is rarely a good sign. Still, there did not seem to be much hope for improving the plan, since it was endorsed by the White House and Democrats generally seem to be in the mood for capitulation these days.
However, yesterday FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, one of the three Democratic appointees of the five-member FCC, revived hopes of strengthening the proposal. With a December 21st vote looming, and with both Republican-appointed commissioners opposed to Genachowski’s proposal, Copps strongly implied that the proposal would have to be strengthened in order to win his vote. National Journal has the story:
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, one of two critical Democratic votes that agency Chairman Julius Genachowski will need (in addition to his own) to adopt new rules of the road for the Internet, signaled yesterday that his support won't come easy. During a Thursday speech before the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York, Copps made clear that some aspects of Genachowski's proposal to expand and strengthen the agency's network neutrality rules, which are designed to preserve the Internet's openness, don't sit well with him.
Genachowski cut some significant breaks to telecom and cable industries in an effort to win support from key players, including AT&T and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. A major concessions involves permitting companies to pay for priority treatment on the Internet, a model known as "paid prioritization." According to analysts, the FCC is expected to allow these arrangements as long as there is no competitive harm.
During his speech, Copps panned the idea, insisting that it "cannot be allowed
to supplant the quality of the public Internet service available to us all." Addressing concerns that Genachowski's plan only extends modest safeguards to wireless broadband, Copps said: "Internet Freedom also means guaranteeing openness in the wireless world as well as the wired. As people cut their wired connections, why would we deny them openness, accessibility and consumer protections in the wireless world?"
Chairman Genachowski’s proposal was critically weakened in order to appeal to telecoms, who don’t have a vote on the FCC. In the process, Genachowski appears to have lost Copps’ vote, without gaining either of the Republicans. So now, the proposal has to be strengthened in order to pass.
This is good news, providing defenders of the open Internet with momentum and leverage. It’s a also a breath of fresh air to be gaining ground in a policy fight these days.
Get a piece of the momentum, and jump on board the Net Neutrality campaign, by signing up the Daily Kos and PCCC petition to the FCC. While the petition is specifically about stopping Comcast from blocking Netflix--a good cause in and of itself--signing the petition will get you involved in the larger fight on saving the open Internet.
Sign up today to protect Net Neutrality.