FCC Chairman’s Net Neutrality Proposal Hurts Consumers, Competition, and Innovators

The FCC Chairman has repeatedly, and relentlessly, deployed his favorite talking point: that he is committed to helping “consumers, competition, and innovators.”

A week from tomorrow, the FCC may adopt a rule on Barack Obama’s signature technology campaign promise–network neutrality. From reports of the rule, it is “fake” or “pretend” net neutrality. The leading advocates of net neutrality have criticized the proposal, and opponents like AT&T and Comcast have praised it.

Yes, that’s like the Winter Queen offering a Christmas proposal and her only supporters being Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch. Who are you fooling?

Consumers, competitors, and innovators are coming out against the proposal in force.

Consumers: Free Press, a leading net neutrality advocacy group, is delivering 2 millions signed petitions today from Internet users. Consumers, citizens, speakers … call them what you want, they support an open Internet, not mere rhetoric.

Competitors: A start-up online TV company has filed a letter to the FCC explaining how its business model depends on an open Internet, and therefore depends on the specific details of the FCC rule. Stanford Law professor Barbara van Schewick posts the letter, and explains that Zediva is one of many companies who have expressed these concerns. The letter is worth reading in full.

Innovators: A venture capital investor in companies including Twitter, Meetup, Foursquare, Zynga, and Etsy has posted about the details of a net neutrality rule that could protect innovators. The investor, Brad Burnham, explains some of the problems with the current rule–which could make the Internet more controlled, like cable television in the 1990s. He endorses a framework proposed by van Schewick, which permits certain types of priority, when chosen directly by the user.

And let’s not forget the Open Internet Coalition, which includes Google, Facebook, Amazon, Expedia, and other companies. They opposed the proposal, based on reports.

On the other hand…

The carriers are vocally in favor. It’s like the Grinch cheering Christmas, like oil companies cheering energy reform and low oil prices, like turkeys marching to spread Thanksgiving Dinner to all six continents.

Time Warner Cable: “We would like to commend Chairman Genachowski, and everyone at the Commission, who have worked tirelessly to craft what we believe to be a fair resolution to these complex and controversial policy issues.”

Comcast: “We believe Chairman Genachowski’s proposal, as described this morning, strikes a workable balance between the needs of the marketplace and the certainty that carefully-crafted and limited rules can provide to ensure that Internet freedom and openness are preserved.”

AT&T: “Based on our understandings, this measure would avoid onerous Title II regulation; would be narrowly drawn along the lines of a compromise we have endorsed previously; would reject limits on our ability to properly manage our network and efficiently utilize our wireless spectrum.”

Verizon: “Verizon appreciates the efforts of Chairman Genachowski to seek a consensus on the contentious issue of net neutrality.”

Consumers, competitors, and innovators are speaking: they need more than a relentless focus on rhetoric and misdirection. They, and we, need real rules, real jurisdiction (called Title 2 or reclassification), and effective enforcement.

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