Obama’s support for net neutrality

(The text of President Obama’s statement on net neutrality.)

Tim Wu, who coined the term “net neutrality,” writes: The President has long been criticized as a compromiser: a man whose cool temperament leads him to always seek out a way to please everyone. But here he appears to have concluded that, with the industry and Republicans already religiously opposed to any form of net-neutrality rule, that there was nothing to be gained from playing the middle. And there’s something else: he’s right. Only a strong net-neutrality rule will actually protect the open Internet.

In short, the White House today is forcing the F.C.C. to take sides instead of reaching for an appeasement that isn’t possible. The cable and telephone companies and the Republican Congress aren’t going to like any version of strong net-neutrality rules. There really is no middle ground here.

Grant Gross writes: While the FCC is an independent agency, Obama’s policy statement takes some heat off FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler as he leans toward reclassifying broadband, said several telecom law experts, both for and against reclassification.

Obama’s new statement may be intended both to nudge the FCC toward broadband reclassification and give Wheeler some space to make it happen, said Ed Black, president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a trade group that supports strong net neutrality rules.

“There’s a real issue of historical legacy here,” Black said. “You don’t want to be the president, and I don’t think you want to be the FCC chairman, who would be looked back upon as the ones who ended net neutrality for the Internet.”

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