If you have read any of the technology or political news over the last weeks you most likely have seen that The FCC commissioner is going to present his long awaited Net Neutrality proposal to the his commission and to the world this month. Organizations such as free press are already saying it’s not extreme enough ( Even though I’m not sure how they can say that when it’s not even out yet) and making all types of noise in the 11th hour. I’ve said for some time that the push for these regulations is somewhat narrow minded and does not take into account the ripple effect that these regulations will create. Will they stop there? A story I found recently ask that very question. A coffee shop in NY posts a sign banning the use of skype on their wifi network, I’ve been on the Acela Amtrak trains and they only allow certain types of traffic. I’m even writing this article on a bus heading into the city using their on board wifi ( which is great BTW) but aren’t these the same things they are accusing providers of doing? The coffee shop is paying for the wifi so don’t they have the right to stop their bandwidth from being exploited? Would i rather them shut down the service because it’s becomes to cost prohibitive to run? Will groups like free press be standing outside this coffee shop serving waffles like they did at the FCC. I believe the FCC understands this which is why they are taking a methodical approach to this issue that gives them flexibility in the future. As you can see by my example this issue needs to be thought through on many levels so let’s hope this happens.
Youtube is blocked on the Bus 🙂
I had several initial reactions to your piece but I knew that others would have knee-jerk, emotional reactions as people often do, and that type of reaction normally fuels these policy debates, but we never really get to real facts. Your article really only brings two feelings for me, and those are confusion and concern.
First, I’m confused about what your goals are here. I’ve watched you write articles, give speeches and have even sat on panels with you and heard you push for “additional” Net Neutrality regulations to be put in place (I say additional because you haven’t made people aware that there are already principles in place by which the FCC monitors the internet). Where I would assume that you would feel a sense of accomplishment, I actually see the opposite. Weren’t FCC net neutrality protections your goal?
The FCC has spent significant time hearing from corporations, consumer and public interest groups, policy experts and academics from both sides, as well as the American people, and it has diligently worked to develop a plan that takes all of those points of reference into account. To my disappointment, this lengthy process sidetracked forward movement on broadband adoption and expanded access. But, it seems you will have the FCC continue to go into this tangential spiral of “net neutrality” because nothing less than exactly what you think they should do is acceptable. In the meantime, it is crucial that the public knows that this focused activity on net neutrality has and will continue to hold back the very people your organization was created to represent — keeping them from benefiting from the opportunities that high speed Internet could offer them.
My second feeling is that of concern. First, because we continue to misconstrue messages and the truth in order to stir up emotions in people, instead of properly educating them so that they may make their own informed decisions. For example in your latest piece you stated that “Without Net Neutrality, Google, Facebook, the Huffington Post and MoveOn.org would not exist; neither would Barack Obama be President.” That statement is loaded and inaccurate for the following reasons:
• What you’re pushing for is not “Net Neutrality,” but rather new regulations that go as far as you can take them. The Net is more neutral today than it’s ever been, and the opportunities for minorities are bigger today than ever. Large companies such as Facebook and Google have not suffered under the current framework — after all, didn’t they get to where they are today BEFORE any of these added “net neutrality” rules were even on the table? By sending this misguided message, you discourage minorities from taking full advantage of such opportunities currently at their fingertips, which goes against every message I’ve been trying to get across for the last year and a half.
• To expand on my last point, sites like Google, the Huffington Post and the others you mentioned were able to flourish because of the current environment provided to the Internet. Even as the Internet evolves in methods and models, that fact will not change.
• The Internet today is not the same as it was 2 years ago, and that Internet was different than it was 5 years ago — this is a good thing. I remember hearing the late Danny Lewin, founder of Akamai, say in 1999 that if we kept up the same Internet usage that we had then, we would overwhelm capacity in 5 years. Well, not only did we increase usage beyond best guesses, but we have surpassed that date. This was able to happen because the Internet changed, adapted and evolved with the times and as needed to meet consumer demands. The Internet plans offered by AOL would not work today and so those models had to evolve and change. But, we have seen more opportunity, not less, during this process of evolution, and I don’t think anyone would disagree — just look at the new multimillion dollar mobile app industry!
My last point of concern with your recent piece is in regard to personal attacks. Instead of sitting down and having honest and open debate, players in this debate often resort to public attacks on each other. I have had the pleasure of meeting you in person, and we have had dialogue in a social setting. I am also honored that David Honig has asked me to speak at his events and enabled me to get the messages that I hold so dearly out to the community. So, I can say that the attacks don’t help the people on whose behalf we are advocating. So my hope is that we can all move past these types of “verbal battles” and really focus on the people and the topics that matter.
This post originally appeared on the huffingtonpost. You can see that post here
After months of heated debate, intense partisan jockeying, goo-gobs of rhetoric being spun left and right and an exhaustive litany of hearings, comments and ex parte filings, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski finally announced that the Commission will, in fact, be voting on net neutrality rules during its December 21 meeting. While the official Order has yet to be released, it seems that the Commission’s proposal goes a little something like this:
• Internet users are entitled to basic transparency protections regarding the ways that broadband networks are managed;
• They are entitled to send and receive the lawful content of their choosing online, and blocking or degrading lawful Internet traffic is prohibited;
• Internet users can rest assured that their interactions online will be free from any unreasonable discrimination;
• Reasonable network management is permissible only to the extent required to ensure the best functioning of the Internet; and finally
• The unique needs of different types of network connections — wired, wireless or otherwise — will be taken into account in determining the reasonableness of network management practices.
Pretty simple, straightforward stuff. Now, by all accounts, this proposal seems to be a fairly solid compromise between the volumes of input the FCC received from consumer groups, policymakers, elected officials, industry leaders, civil rights organizations, labor unions and regular people interested enough in the issue to chime in. It even seems to include elements of Genachowski’s own Third Way Proposal from earlier in the year, with a dash of the original Four Internet Freedoms of the Powell/Martin-era FCC, and a hint of some consensus elements that one-time rivals were able to agree on earlier this fall when Congressman Henry Waxman tried to get a net neutrality bill passed through Congress before midterms.
So the question is, if this proposal basically takes into account the interests of various parties who took part in net neutrality discussion over the past year and a half — what in the world is wrong with compromise? Why are the same people who fought so hard to get net neutrality rules imposed by the Commission, now so angry that a proposed framework is on the table?
Something drastic has happened to our culture where it has for some reason unbeknownst to me become ‘en vogue’ to whine your way toward relevance. The very same ‘consumer interest groups’ that were staunch advocates of Genachowski just months ago are now criticizing him more harshly than even his worst critics.
One need only look as far as Mark Ammori to see a prime example of someone whose brash critique of Genachowski overlooks the important work he’s doing in trying to bring this oh-so-contentious issue to a close. What’s more, what Ammori and other critics fail to realize is that with the net neutrality issue being close to tabled, the Commission can finally focus on the real “priority” of this administration — implementation of the National Broadband Plan.
The fact that the rhetoric has continued even when there’s a prospective solution in sight raises serious questions about why certain folks are so vested in seeing this net neutrality fray continue. Could it be that they, in fact, benefit from manufacturing chaos? Is the heated anger really just a way to attract more media attention to groups that are otherwise irrelevant or invisible to the vast majority of our nation’s population?
When people spend more time and money fighting against “big corporations” than they do investing in the poor, unserved and underprivileged communities they claim to care about and represent, one at least wonders what really motivates the free press to save the internet for everyone by providing them with public knowledge about the power of the Internet.
Maybe because I didn’t grow up wealthy, or because my introduction to technology really was lifesaving and life altering that I view this proposal differently than some others may.
Maybe I’m naive to believe that compromise is a good thing, and not a four-letter word.
But maybe, just maybe, there are other rational, moderate people out there, like me, who see that something is better than nothing, and that the FCC’s ability to deal with net neutrality now in the way that it’s trying to puts us much closer to our ultimate goal of achieving universal broadband adoption and use for all than continued bickering ever will.
If you haven’t noticed, the FCC has encouraged lots of people by its latest approach on the Net Neutrality issue. The commissioners’ have offered what seems to be a good attempt to, as the NAACP frames it, “promote rules that safeguard the civil rights, free speech and economic opportunity for our nation’s most vulnerable.” The Rev. Jesse Jackson says the Rainbow Push Coalition is”confident that by reviewing any subsequent (FCC) rules or order and continuing to work with the FCC on implementing this proposed, compromise solution, the playing field will be leveled and our country will be brought closer to universal broadband adoption.
I’ve said many times, if we had been able to convert all of the attention that has been given to Net Neutrality to some other more critical issues, such as broadband access, closing the digital divide, and promoting digital entrepreneurship, we would have a much better chance at transformative and positive changes. There’s a lot of work to do, but if this FCC announcement helps resolve the NN issues, maybe we can focus more on the ones that really count. Fingers crossed.
I recently wrote a post on Politic365 about Color of Change’s attacks on Bobby Rush. You can read about it here.
Over the last few days there has been a lot of chatter on the Internet that points to the notion that the FCC is working to approve Net Neutrality regulations before the end of the year. There are a few things about this that cause me to wonder about it. The timing of all of this is interesting because it comes in the wake of a tumultuous midterm election and subsequent pledges by policymakers to focus on job creation and the economy. What is more concerning is the potential that the meeting to approve a net neutrality proposal could take place on Dec 22nd –a time of year when most are focused on spending time with friends and family, not debating the politics of net neutrality.
This rush cannot be good for anyone. The FCC has said for some time now that this is a complex issue and that a slow methodical approach is needed to make sure they don’t make crucial mistakes. However, this rapid approach to potential regulation is in direct contrast to previous statements. What the FCC needs to do before moving forward with any regulation is take the time to explain the policy and prove that proposed rules will not harm broadband adoption or digital literacy efforts – the issues that concern us the most. The FCC should weigh its next steps very carefully so the American public and underserved communities don’t end up feeling like the net neutrality regulations were a lump of coal that was rushed into our stockings at the last minute.
Check the interview I did with Mario Armstrong on his satellite radio show. He’s doing a great job educating people about technology. We talked about entrepreneurship, technology policy and how all of that effects minorities let me know what you think.
By this last Tuesday, I believe we were all tired of the campaign commercials. And after just a few days, I have to admit the “what-does-it-mean” commentary is getting a little old. But I can’t pass up on sharing something that will be overlooked in the mainstream media and that some people would rather you not hear.
According to post-election analysis, every House and Senate candidate who signed a pledge to support Net Neutrality rules lost his or her election. That was 95 candidates who signed the pledge circulated by the “Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC).” The pledge said the candidates were on board for strong NN rules on wireless and wired broadband networks.
That is zero for 95. I believe that is even more evidence that NN supporters cannot show anyone – and you can now put American voters in that mix – how adopting NN rules as they propose would create jobs, boost the economy, close the digital divide, or somehow improve their lives.