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Nation's CTO Reaffirms Commitment to Net Neutrality; Says Criticism Premature

Aneesh Chopra, the nation's chief technology officer, reaffirmed the White House's commitment to net neutrality amid increased criticism from lawmakers that the rules could hurt investment in Internet networks.

"At a 100,000-foot view, we are committed to the notion that there should be essentially a level playing field for entrepreneurs and big firms to ride our nation’s infrastucture to compete with those applications that we think will deliver value," Chopra said in an interview on C-SPAN's Communicators program taped Friday. The show will air Saturday evening at 6 p.m.

He cautioned that concerns now being voiced by lawmakers, high-tech companies and a major labor union come before any rules have been introduced. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed the beginning of a rule-making process that will formulate new rules for how Internet service providers can manage traffic on their networks. A vote to start the months-long process is scheduled for Oct. 22.

After his appearance on C-SPAN, Chopra told me, "There aren't even any rules out yet for anyone to criticize. This is a process and [the FCC] is just at the beginning of that process."

This afternoon, 72 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter (pdf) urging Genachowski to move cautiously, saying broadband networks have expanded through competition and private investment.

"In light of the growth and innovation in new applications that the current regime has enabled, as compared to the limited evidence demonstrating tangible harm, we would urge you to avoid tentative conclusions which favor government regulation," the lawmakers said in their letter.

The letter follows a furry of criticism from the Hill in recent days of net neutrality rules.

The FCC has received about a dozen letters from Republican and Democratic governors and 18 Republican senators. The letter Friday by 72 House Democrats, includes 31 Blue Dog Democrats and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Genachowski's office declined to comment on the growing criticism.

“It's a pity that 72 members of the Blue Dog Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus are deserting one of the fundamental planks of President Obama's platform -- a free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet," Gigi Sohn, executive director of Public Knowledge, said in a statement. "The people who those members of Congress represent are the most at risk from the closed, controlling Internet that the phone and cable companies want. They are being betrayed."

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 16, 2009; 6:00 PM ET
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Next: CTO Chopra Talks Cloud, Spectrum, Net Neutrality on CSPAN


It is interesting that, in the above, the article includes comments on this development from Gigi Sohn, whose DC lobbying group is paid by Google to support "network neutrality" regulation, but none from anyone who is critical of such regulation. I am afraid that this is typical of the Post's unfair and unbalanced coverage of this issue.

Posted by: squirma | October 17, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

And, squirma, it's interesting that, despite the Post's relatively even handed coverage (which includes many blog posts both for and against net neutrality) you focus on the players, not the game.

Bottom line - net neutrality is needed to prevent ISPs from giving us only the content they want us to see.

You justified censorship of political comments at a concert as "making it suitable for a family hour" - when the comments were along the lines of "George Bush go home, George Bush leave us alone."

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the sentiment, it is not anything anyone can reasonably claim, straight faced, did not meet broadcast standards.

You're fine with ISPs censoring what we read if it's broadcast during "family time", which on the Internet is essentially 24/7.

You've advocated for ISPs to pick one favored partner (probably a content provider they own) and give then favored high speed access - so Comcast could slow down Netflix and Hulu and other streaming video but make their own video downloads fast.

Yet you don't think this would hurt our ability to freely access information and small companies' ability compete?


Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 17, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"VirginiaGal2," every one of the Post's blog entries favors onerous "network neutrality" regulation -- even those that describe efforts to forestall that regulation.

What's more, your posting repeats the lobbyists' falsehoods. No ISP has ever censored legal content. The Pearl Jam incident involved editing by a content provider, which is Constitutionally protected editorial discretion. But of course, what's a small matter like the US Constitution when you're obviously pushing the corporate agenda of monopolist Google?

Posted by: squirma | October 19, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

squirma, quite a few of the blog entries do a nice job of presenting the opposition. Sorry.

My posting presents my own beliefs and the most accurate facts I have been able to dig up. The net neutrality opponents want to be content providers and favor that content, not just ISPs.

The fact that when wearing that content provider hat, at least one company that is also an ISP has censored political comment is therefore directly relevant to me.

When editorial discretion comes from the person who is the gatekeeper as to what news I am ABLE to access, expect me to scream bloody murder.

In fact, my concern is our ability to freely access information. I care about the principles. I don't give a royal red rat's patootie what Google's position is - it's totally irrelevant to me.

I don't care if they like the position, and I don't care if they hate it.

I care about what is best for a free society. What matters to me is our continued ability to freely access all information, not just the censored bits our ISP/content provider lets through.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 20, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

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