net neutrality

After Pushing Ahead With Net Neutrality Vote, FCC Chairman To Face Congress On Tuesday

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Following the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to move ahead with new open Internet rules that could allow for some companies to pay for faster delivery of their content online, calls of protest have sprouted from Internet companies and activists alike.

What’s next? FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will head to congress on May 20 for a sitdown that should prove contentious. When it first became known that Wheeler would testify in front of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, it was before it was clear what the proposed net neutrality rules would be and when they would be voted on.

In light of recent developments, Wheeler’s visit is all the more interesting.

Expect House Republicans to question whether we need net neutrality at all. And, I’d posit, House Democrats will likely question the impact of the potential for codified paid prioritization to distort the Internet’s openness.

House Republican leadership recently protested any sort of net neutrality as unnecessary. And leading Democrats have protested that fast lanes will be tantamount to handing over control of the Internet to large businesses. As such, let’s make a drinking game for the 20th!

Anytime you hear a question, or statement that at least paraphrases one of the following take a sip of your coffee:

  • America invented the Internet.
  • Net neutrality will stifle innovation.
  • Net neutrality will protect innovation.
  • Net neutrality will greatly harm investment in new broadband capacity.
  • Net neutrality protects consumers from harm.
  • Net neutrality harms consumers.
  • American broadband is slow, penetration is low, and broadband profits are high.
  • American broadband penetration is great, and darn isn’t it quick to boot.
  • If the Internet has survived this far without net neutrality, why do we need it now?
  • Fast lanes will cede control of the Internet to wealthy corporations.
  • I recently accepted a bunch of money from ISPs, and thus find their perspective compelling.

Ok, kidding on that last one. Now, for two bonus comments. If either of these come up, finish your coffee (have another on deck, just in case, you’ll want to stay seated):

  • Anything parroting Sen. Al Franken’s line that net neutrality is the “free speech issue of our time.”
  • Any question directed at Chairman Wheeler indicating that congress, and not the FCC, should regulate the Internet.

I’m being slightly cynical in that I don’t expect anything earth shattering to come out of the session, either from Chairman Wheeler or those asking him questions. But then again, maybe congress will surprise us for once.

ILLUSTRATION BY BRYCE DURBIN