Free Press expressed disbelief at a report that FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski may be leaning toward not reclassifying broadband Internet
service under Title II, though that option has always been on the table.
The network neutrality fans were responding to a report in
the Washington Post that the chairman
was "leaning toward" not doing so, but the story suggested he was
also weighing the downside of trying to justify network management and other network
neutrality authority under its current Title I classification.
A spokesperson for the chairman had no comment on the story,
though a source said it did not come from his office.
The chairman has kept his cards close to the vest over what
the FCC might do in the wake of the federal court smack down of its
Comcast/BitTorrent network management decision, but has pledged to find a legal
underpinning for both network openness and transparency and a raft of
initiatives under the national broadband plan, most prominently the shifting of
Universal Service funds from phone service to broadband.
But Free Press as much as said it was Title II or the
highway. "We simply cannot believe that Julius Genachowski would consider
going down this path. Failing to reclassify broadband means the FCC is
abandoning the signature communications and technology issues of the Obama
administration," said Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver. "Such
a decision would destroy net neutrality. It would deeply undermine the FCC's
ability to ensure universal Internet access for rural, low-income and disabled
Americans. It will undermine the FCC's ability to protect consumers from
price-gouging and invasions of privacy....Genachowski should not buckle to
phone and cable industry pressure, but it will take courage to stand up to one
of the biggest lobbying juggernauts in Washington."
The FCC also refused comment on a report in Communications
Daily that the commission was considering getting outside advisers to help with
the Comcast/NBCU merger review, which is on hold as it collects more info. The
move would not be a big surprise given this commission's emphasis on tapping
expertise wherever it can find it, including for the national broadband plan
and inquiry into the future of journalism.