President Obama, who came out strongly in favor of an equal internet for all citizens, endorsing “net neutrality” position that was part of his campaign platform, isn’t that different from the thoughts of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, Wheeler said.
Wheeler opposed net neutrality
Wheeler, a former lobbyist for large telecom concerns, had previously opposed net neutrality and instead supported a plan that would allow large media companies to pay to receive access to a “fast lane” on the Internet while those smaller companies who couldn’t afford this privilege.
According to a Politico report from May 8, a plan put forth by Wheeler earlier this year sparked a “firestorm” of criticism from internet companies and venture capitalists that worried the new plan would provide the mega media corporations an insurmountable advantage as their web sites and streaming media would run much faster than smaller companies.
“Start-ups with applications that are advantaged by speed (such as games, video, or payment systems) will be unlikely to overcome that deficit no matter how innovative their service,” wrote group of 50 venture capitalists quoted in the Politico report.
Net neutrality issue is more importantly about freedom of speech
In addition to disadvantaging business interests and stifling economic growth of tech start-ups, the net neutrality issue is more importantly about freedom of speech. As major media consolidate even further, the real diversity of opinions in corporate media is disappearing further. As people turn to the internet to obtain a different perspective on the news – and often receive documented news that doesn’t appear in the big media reports – the issue of net neutrality becomes constitutionally important.
When Obama spoke recently on net neutrality recently, his words sounded the right cords for supporters of an equal internet.
“The position of my administration… is you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to various user,” Obama said. “You want to leave it open so that the next Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) or the next Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) can succeed.”
Now, suddenly, Wheeler appears to have seen the light.
“Anything that interferes with the virtuous cycle [of Internet growth] is something that can and should be prohibited,” Wheeler was quoted as saying. “Prioritization, in my opinion, interferes with the virtuous cycle. Let me be really clear: If prioritization hurts consumers, hurts innovation, hurts competition, degrades service, it’s DOA [dead on arrival].”
Thank you, President Obama.