FCC Chairman Seeks Strong Net Neutrality Rules as Critics Balk

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-02-05 Print this article Print
FCC, net neutrality

Supporters of Wheeler's proposals also had things to say about his ideas.

"I am very pleased that Chairman Wheeler's outlined proposal matches the network neutrality principles ALA and nearly a dozen library and higher education groups called for last July," Courtney Young, the president of the American Library Association, said in a statement. "America's libraries collect, create and disseminate essential information to the public over the Internet, and enable our users to create and distribute their own digital content and applications. Network neutrality is essential to meeting our mission in serving America's communities and preserving the Internet as a platform for free speech, innovation, research and learning for all."

An open Internet is critical "as a cornerstone for preserving our democracy in the information age," wrote Young. "We also depend on it to make sure essential library services and content aren't stuck in an Internet 'slow lane.' The educational and public interest benefits of an open Internet are extremely important, and we welcome strong network neutrality protections that will help ensure equitable access to online information, applications and services for all."

Net neutrality, the idea that the Internet should be accessible to everyone equally without provisions for fast lanes for those willing to pay extra, has been a stated policy of President Obama since he ran for the presidency and was elected to his first term in 2008.

The issue of net neutrality has been a hotbed for several years, with proponents and opponents arguing their positions and bashing the opposition verbally in public forums and discussions.

In September, the FCC announced that it had received a record 3 million comments about proposed rules for net neutrality by a Sept. 15 deadline.

In November 2014, it appeared that Wheeler and Obama had some differences of opinion about net neutrality, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Instead of Obama's more strongly worded proposal, Wheeler preferred a more subtle approach that would also address the concerns of the companies that provide Internet access to millions of Americans. Obama had earlier said that he wanted to see the FCC adopt Title II as a way to include ISPs in existing neutrality regulations. Title II refers to the Communications Act, which gives the FCC the power to regulate communications in the United States. Title II was originally intended to make sure that telephone companies provided service to anyone in their coverage area.

In October 2014, officials from AT&T, Comcast and Verizon told U.S. leaders that they do not plan to offer faster Internet access, or so-called "fast lanes," to content producers who are willing to pay more to get their messages out in front of competitors' transmissions, according to an earlier eWEEK story.


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