Big money causes President Obama to choke on net neutrality

August 15, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More

Do you remember the way candidate Obama spoke out fervently in favor of net neutrality throughout his campaign? Check out this video compilation of some of his many pre-election pro-net-neutrality pronouncements.

Image by Erich Vieth, using images from (with permission)

Guess what? Now that Google and Verizon have decided that a multi-tier non-neutral arrangement will help their profits statements, Obama is unwilling to fight back.  Just as he failed to do regarding single payer health care. Just like he failed to do when Wall Street “reform” failed to address too-big-to-fail and failed to reinstate Glass-Steagall (and see here).   Just like he did when the military-industrial complex insisted on ramping up U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Just like he fails to do when he drags his feet on Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell. Now Obama is unwilling to fight back in support of net neutrality: “President Obama campaigned on net neutrality, and yet the White House has been surprisingly quiet on the issue since the breakdown of FCC negotiations and in the wake of Google and Verizon’s joint policy proposal.”

President Obama has lost his voice regarding net neutrality even though

Joel Kelsey, political advisor with nonprofit media-reform group Free Press, “said the proposal would create “tollbooths on the information superhighway.”

“It’s a signed, sealed and delivered policy framework with giant loopholes that blesses the carving up of the Internet for a few deep-pocketed Internet companies and carriers,” he said in a statement.

In the midst of all of this hypocrisy, Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs unloaded on the “professional left,” insisting that ” “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

How about this, Mr. Gibbs? Barack Obama has repeatedly proven that he would rather have any sort of deal than a deal that achieves the principles Mr. Obama announced in his campaign speeches.

Obama achieved some good things too, but how is anything mentioned at the top of this post differ from anything john McCain would have done? Except, perhaps, when he called the health care bill “reform” instead of calling it the “send gushers of tax money and forced clientele to the health insurance industry.”

The above-described failures didn’t occur in a vacuum. We also seen his refusal to bring American torturers to justice. We’ve seen expansion of off-shore oil drilling. He’s authorized remote-controlled drone attacks on Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, where these are conducted by the CIA, and in which numerous civilians have been killed, and we have good reason to believe that many other deaths of innocent people have been covered up.

I voted for Barack Obama, but I’m sorely disappointed.  Not that there was any other reasonable place to put my vote.  From now one, though, I am going to judge Barack Obama solely by what he does, not by his elegant campaign speeches.

For additional trustworthy information on the Google-Verizon deal, see this list of articles at Free Press.


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Category: Internet, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    I'm still waiting for Barack Obama to condemn the Google-Verizon deal. In the meantime,

    "Four Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee penned a letter to Federal Communications Committee Chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday asking the FCC "to ensure the maintenance of an open Internet" by rejecting a recent deal by internet giants Google and Verizon that could lead to tiered pricing for internet service."

    Here's what real net neutrality means: "Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers can't discriminate between different kinds of online content and applications. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies." It's time for President Obama to indicate that he will take real-life actions to protect net neutrality.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Alan Grayson:

    The Verizon-Google Net Neutrality Proposal begins by stating that "Google and Verizon have been working together to find ways to preserve the open Internet." Well, that's nice. Imagine what they would have come up with if they had been trying to kill off the open Internet. Actually, you don't have to imagine it. Because that's what this is. An effort to kill off the open Internet.

    Much of the coverage of the Verizon-Google Proposal has focused on only one of the proposal's many problems: the fact that the proposal allows wireless broadband carriers — like, say, Verizon, for instance — to discriminate in handling Internet traffic in any manner they choose. They can charge content providers, they can block content providers, and they can slow down content providers, just as they please. That sure doesn't sound "neutral."

    . . . It's time for the FCC to step up. It's time for Congress to step up. It's time for all of us to step up. We need for the law to protect the internet: No discrimination in pricing or in service. No self-regulation by corporate titans. And no blessing of corrupt deals at the FCC.

  3. Tony Coyle says:

    ArsTechnica has an excellent piece on this topic:

    basically – two main challenges.

    The first that there is no mechanism whereby 'meaningful harm' is clearly defined, nor is there any way for the FCC to modify it's rules regarding such, to prevent such harm in the future. Further –

    some kind of organization dominated by Google and Verizon would decide what constitutes "meaningful harm," and the FCC would do what it tells them to do.

    The second main challenge is in traffic-shaping — you'll recall the furor over Comcast's P2P shaping

    As Ars says

    And yes, the "new nondiscrimination principle" the companies advocate "includes a presumption against prioritization of Internet traffic—including paid prioritization."

    Except when it doesn't.

    "Prioritization of Internet traffic would be presumed inconsistent with the non-discrimination standard, but the presumption could be rebutted," the fine print says.

    And the scheme's definition of "reasonable network practices" includes "any technically sound practice… to address traffic that is unwanted by or harmful to users, the provider's network, or the Internet…" and… "to prioritize general classes or types of Internet traffic, based on latency; or otherwise to manage the daily operation of its network."

    And the worst is that none of these so called 'protections' and 'guarantees' for Net Neutrality would be imposed upon wireless network provision, only on your wired broadband provider. I don't know about you, but I see the major growth in wireless access and provision over the next decade as the primary battleground for net neutrality. As more people access more of their content through wireless services , the main arena requiring neutrality will be wireless, not wired, broadband.

    In the same way that many people have abandoned their wired 'ma bell' phone for a cellphone – many people are abandoning their wired internet for the growing 4G services available through their cellphone plan (just look at the number of threads devoted to tethering and 'hotspots')

    We need to ensure our rules are appropriate for the GROWING industry, not for the one that is settling into a legacy state.

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