TechFreedom: Obama cynically exploits confusion over Title II, misses opportunity to lead on legislative deal

This morning, President Obama called on the FCC to “reclassify” broadband under Title II of the Communications Act so it can ban all paid prioritization. TechFreedom President Berin Szoka responded as follows, verbatim:

Title II means the very opposite of net neutrality. Even under Title II, the FCC can’t legally ban all paid prioritization — only regulate it to make sure that prices are just and reasonable. In fact, Title II would authorize broadband providers to charge some price to content and service providers for carrying their traffic to users — and there’s no precedent for the FCC from “forbearing” from this requirement in a market that it claims is a “terminating access monopoly.” Title II would raise a host of other problems, including choking broadband competition, inviting regulation of the rest of the Internet and validating Russia and China’s push to have the International Telecommunications Union regulate the Internet as a telecom service.

Obama’s statement is simply a cynical political ploy, a way of playing to activists on the radical Left who have built mailing lists and a political movement on the most absolutist conception of net neutrality. Forbearance, the process by which many claim the FCC could make Title II palatable, will only be politicized even further by Obama’s inflammatory rhetoric.

This is simply the opening salvo of the legislative fight over net neutrality that has been brewing for nearly a decade. No-blocking and transparency rules are uncontroversial: back in 2006, 215 House Republicans voted for them as part of badly-overdue update to the Communications Act. The debate has always been about two questions. First, how to craft a non-discrimination rule that bans anti-competitive behavior — but doesn’t ultimately harm consumers? That means policing paid prioritization under flexible rules, not banning it. Second, how to prevent net neutrality from leading to larger regulation of the Internet? That means barring Title II, clarifying that Section 706 isn’t a grant of authority, and giving the FCC narrow authority to deal with truly harmful broadband practices.

A legislative deal is possible, but both the President and Congressional Republicans would have to get beyond soundbites and start talking substance. President Obama’s bizarre insistence that four million Americans supported Title II, when nearly a quarter of the comments filed with the FCC actually opposed Title II, doesn’t augur well for the negotiating process. A more pragmatic president would have used this opportunity to work with Republicans and the dozens of Congressional Democrats who’ve opposed Title II on a legislative deal — the way that Clinton and Gingrich resolved welfare reform and the key debates of their day.

TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.

Source: TechFreedom

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30 Comments

        1. Attacks against Internet by the likes of Verizon and Comcast have only started this year — due to job of their “former” lobbyist Wheeler, who was appointed by “pro net-neutrality” Obama.

          There is no doubt that if strict measures will not be taken, Internet in USA will not be the same any more. Thankfully, in EU such tricks as Wheeler’s are banned, it is not possible to charge for “fast lanes” there under any circumstances.

        2. How many people have to say that it DOESN’T WORK NOW before you actually admit it doesn’t work now? Because it does NOT work now.

          Let me repeat this for a hundredth time: ISPs are throttling Netflix TODAY. Perhaps not in all markets, and perhaps not every ISP, but in many large American markets, you as a consumer CANNOT find an ISP that does NOT throttle Netflix.

          Now, please answer me this question: Does it work now? Should it not be fixed?

  1. Barack Obama has invited a fight with the GOP over his support of regulating internet providers, and an emboldened Republican Party is more than happy to engage him over this issue. This is just the latest signal to suggest that the White House wants confrontation rather than accommodation with Republicans in his final two years in office.Noah Rothman

    1. Neither side wants to accommodate the other, and those who try to accommodate get voted out. Liberals come out and win in Presidential years, while the sure and steady conservatives come out in midterms to win. What happens in between is all just a show.

  2. Shame on MDN , TechFreedom is a biased Libertarian leaning special interest group and your attempts to portray them as something else is shameful. It is totally legit to be against Net Neutrality and in bed with the big telecom but to act like you are a grass roots fighting for a free internet is shameful. Tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

  3. The government does so little well. They should stay out of it and let consumers and the free market sort it out. Americans will come out ahead.

    If you looked closely, Obama’s video posting had fake buffering built into it. Do they think the public is stupid? Yes they do.

    1. Congress is supposed to represent the people. If the people are too lazy to monitor their representatives and ensure they do a good job, then gridlock and brainless partisanship results.

    2. The problem with your postulate is that there is not such thing as a free market. Wealth and power aggregate to few or single gatekeepers, who then restrict access to the market in order to eliminate competition. Examples abound throughout history; blindness to this simple economic and historical fact is willful.

  4. “TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.”

    Probably not. Follow their money. Seem to be a mouthpiece for ALEC.

  5. Both political parties are always screwing things up! It will never change I’m afraid to say. And I don’t trust Russia or China with any say so in this matter!!!!!

  6. “Net Neutrality” means some companies (AT&T, Verizon, etc) build out network infrastructure at enormous expense and other companies (Netflix, etc) get to stream high-bandwidth data across the network without paying for the right to use the infrastructure or contributing to its upgrade.

    1. The customer is already paying for network access. If I, and the rest of the world choose to watch Netflix, or YouTube, or download a million web pages a day, the end user is requesting the data. It’s not up to the telcos to tell me what I can or can’t stream. They get paid very well already, how do you think they make billions of dollars? The enormous expense is just part of business, the more they build, the more people will be able to use the network, the more money they will make. This is just another way to rip us off.

      If Netflix has to pay (or pay more), guess where the money is going to come from? The end user! Now I’m paying twice for the same service because there is just no end to the greed in this country!

  7. Guys – let’s say goodbye to MDN once and for all and let it be the Tea Party/Obama-crazed/Limbaugh-worshipping site it wants to be without our continued support. There’s lots of other places to get Apple News, places that just give you Apple News without shoving their politics down the throat of half their readership every week. Pick another place, any place – I’ll see you there.

    1. But I like my Mac news with a little spice! This site (and the posters) never fails to give me a chuckle…I would love to see more libertarian changes in our govt but the real power brokers have hedged bets on both sides. The wiley coyote-sheep dog fight is just for show…now back to out regularly scheduled debate!

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