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Netroots groups flood White House, FCC with calls to reclassify broadband

Members of grass-roots Internet groups MoveOn and Free Press have flooded the White House and Federal Communications Commission with calls urging the FCC to assert authority over Internet access providers so that it can carry out a net neutrality rule.

The “netroots” groups say that without reclassifying broadband, the FCC can’t carry out its planned rule to force carriers to treat applications equally on their networks. That policy proposal by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was set back by a court decision last month that showed weakness in the agency’s ability to regulate the companies that provide access to the Web such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.

In a story by The Post on Monday, it appeared over the weekend that Genachowski was leaning toward staying with a regulatory framework that some legal analysts say would make it difficult for the FCC to carry out broadband policies, including its controversial net neutrality proposal. He had not made a final decision, sources said.

The grass-roots efforts come amid a stark quiet from companies that have been supportive of net neutrality rules. Companies on both sides of the debate have told me they are waiting for a final decision by the agency before commenting publicly.

A source at the FCC said the agency has been bombarded with calls. Free Press, a media reform public interest group, called for its 500,000 members to call and e-mail Genachowski to tell him to “protect the Internet” by reclassifying broadband. Some 200,000 of its supporters signed an online petition on the topic. Twitter was flooded with tweets to @fcc and @whitehouse calling for reclassification.

MoveOn said in an e-mail to its 5 million members to call the White House, urging the administration to tell the FCC to reclassify. The FCC is an independent agency and wouldn’t be obligated to carry out instructions from the White House.

“There is a an urgent threat to the reality of a free and open Internet – and President Obama needs to hear from you right away,” the group wrote to its members in an e-mail.

“This decision is flying under the radar right now – if we want to stop it, we need to generate a serious outcry,” the group wrote.

By Cecilia Kang  |  May 5, 2010; 8:15 AM ET
Categories:  Broadband , FCC , Net Neutrality  
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Next: Lawmakers call on FCC to assert authority over broadband networks

Comments

If the FCC decides to re-classify, then a judge will explain to the FCC the difference between Title I & II in court while overturning the FCC's action.

Posted by: millionea81 | May 5, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Note that, as usual, Cecilia Kang cites no opposing viewpoint, and misleadingly describes "astroturf" lobbyists such as Free Press, which lobbies on behalf of Internet monopolist Google, as "Netroots" groups. She also misleadingly states that Internet providers have been "quiet," when in fact they have made several filings with the FCC noting the illegality of attempting to arbitrarily "reclassify" broadband Internet service as falling under Title II of the Telecommunications Act (which was meant for telephone service). Ms. Kang reports on the filings made by Google lobbyists (including Susan Crawford, just a few days ago) but pretends that Internet service providers' filings do not exist. Why? Because they debunk the false statements of Google's lobbyists -- and Ms. Kang never has a single critical word to say about her advertiser Google.

Washington Post, it's time to let Ms. Kang pass through the revolving door to the job at Google for which she's obviously "paying forward" -- and get an unbiased and ethical reporter.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | May 5, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

It is not logical that an expansion in Broadband will result in the "discovery" of new customers willing to pay increased prices for Broadband.

Were that the case, it would be a market indicator that existing prices are lower than what the Free Market will bear.

So unless those Bolsheviks at Comcast, Verizon and AT&T stop messing with Capitalism the FCC will have to step in.

Bring that Economic Analysis to your Tea Party and smoke it.

Posted by: gannon_dick | May 5, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

LBrettGlass,

So tell us...how long have Verizon,ATT and the cable providers been paying you to post items on websites? How much are they paying?

Posted by: andio76 | May 5, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

It all started back in 2002 when the then Chairman of the FCC who now co-chairs a Telco and Cable-co backed Lobby group, made some changes. Here is a link to a letter that he received from the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy about what he was doing and the ramifications that it would have.
http://www.sba.gov/advo/laws/comments/fcc02_0827.html
Most of the things the the SBA was worried would happen have happened. Time to change things to the original meaning in the 1996 Telecommunications act.
Also, Brett, the act covers more than just Telephone: TELECOMMUNICATIONS- The term `telecommunications' means the transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user's choosing, without change in
the form or content of the information as sent and received.
This is from the definitions in the ACT and seems to cover more than TELEPHONES.

Posted by: rfceo | May 5, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

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