If you’re a fan of net neutrality, meet your next enemy. Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who has asked the FCC to stop a planned vote on open Internet rules.
PresidentObama has pushed for the change, and it appears as if it will pass, as Chairman Julius Genachowski apparently has the support of the commission’s two other Democrats, reports the WSJ.
Essentially, what these rules would do is make it illegal for ISPs to selectively slow down or block certain Internet content, while at the same time compelling them to reveal how their networks are managed. Barton sees this as a problem apparently, and so do the big telcos.
He believes it would be “potentially catastrophic” to the broadband industry, which is a take that’s certainly at complete odds with about two dozen smaller providers who have lauded the imminent vote. To them, it offers a more level playing field and will be an impetus for growth.
Big telcos are complaining that this hampers their investments in the broadband network, and are pulling the Obama card–he’s a big proponent of nationwide broadband.
Wireless Internet is also covered by this proposal, which to date has been unregulated. Barton here believes such regulations would “retard the deployment” of the wireless web.
It’s hard to read here exactly who is right and wrong. In defense of the big telcos, these folks have spent quite a bit on building out broadband. Then again, sticking up for the little guy, a few companies control basically the entire US Internet, effectively shutting others out.
But why would the Republicans want to get on this side of the issue? After all, Obama’s broadband policy is intended to help those who many of these folks claim to represent–our rural citizenry and small business. Ah, politics in Washington these days.