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.

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