Net Neutrality Drama Continues – And What About (President) Obama?

by on February 23, 2011 · 4 comments

Following up on my Congressional testimony last week, I’ve written two articles on how the House and Senate are moving forward with plans to undo the FCC’s December 23,2010 “Open Internet” order, aka net neutrality. For my inaugural post for Forbes, I write about the experience of being a witness before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, and provide some background on how the FCC found itself backed into a corner that led to the unpopular (on both sides) new rules. See “Deep in the Net Neutrality Trenches.”

On CNET this morning, I review in detail the steps taken last week by Congress. These include two hearings, one featuring all five FCC Commissioners. After the hearings, the House approved an amendment to the on-going budget negotiations that would deny the agency any funding to implement or enforce its rules. Later, both the House and Senate issued a Joint Resolution of Disapproval, which, if passed, would nullify the rule-making and deny the FCC future authority to try again.

The conventional wisdom suggests that these are futile gestures, as President Obama would veto either measure (as well as other pending legislation on the subject). But not necessarily. Even before the new Congress came in, the President demonstrated a willingness to negotiate with Republicans (e.g., extending the Bush tax cuts). Net neutrality is certainly a priority for the White House, but it may not be as high as other priorities.  The net neutrality rules–unpopular with just about everyone–mail fall victim to horse-trading over the budget or other more important legislative goals for the White House.

I’ll be speaking (ad nauseum) about the Report and Order at two events next week in Washington.

On March 1, TechFreedom is sponsoring an event to review my white paper on the FCC’s December, 2010 Report and Order on the Open Internet.  The event is free, but RSVP is required.  Commentators include Internet pioneer Dave Farber, Free State Foundation’s Randolph May, Open Internet Coalition’s Markham Erickson, Verizon’s Link Hoewing, and Public Knowledge’s Harold Feld.  Opening remarks will be delivered by Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who has introduced legislation to reverse the order and limit the FCC’s jurisdiction over Internet matters.   The white paper is available here.

On March 2, I’ll join Richard Bennett and Randolph May at the Institute for Policy Innovation’s Third Annual Communications Summit.    Other speakers include former Congressman Rick Boucher, FCC Commissioner Meredith Baker, and Andrew Keen.

  • Mickey White

    Who gave Marsha Blackburn authority to rule on the internet?
    Why does Marsha Want Congress to Regulate the Internet? Why not just say NO FEDERAL branch (the FCC and congress and the federal courts included) has any authority to decide or rule on any aspect concerning the Internet?

    BUT Marsha Blackburn did Vote FOR: Patriot Act Reauthorization, Electronic Surveillance, Funding the REAL ID Act (National ID), Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Thought Crimes “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Warrantless Searches, Employee Verification Program, Body Imaging Screening, Patriot Act extension; and only NOW she is worried about free speech, privacy, and government take over of the internet?

    Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
    See her “blatantly unconstitutional” votes at :

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  • Brett Glass

    These events should be interesting. It’s unfortunate, though, that not a single speaker at either one has actually worked as an ISP. (The one representative of a company that does provide Internet services – Link Hoewing of Verizon – is a smart man and a skilled lawyer/lobbyist, but I doubt that he’s ever managed a TCP/IP network or had to balance an ISP’s books.) I’ve started an informal “ISP speaker’s bureau” which can supply independent, knowledgeable ISPs to speak at policy events. Those holding such events are encouraged to contact me as Brett (followed by an at sign, followed by the domain name for the names of qualified speakers.

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