Tag Archives: internet

FCC chairman for strongest net neutrality rules

Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman
Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman, Washington, DC

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission just said he’s proposing the “strongest open Internet protections” the Web has ever seen.

In a Wired op-ed, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced he wants to regulate Internet providers with the most aggressive tool at his disposal: Title II of the Communications Act.
In addition to covering fixed broadband providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the draft rules would cover wireless providers such as T-Mobile and Sprint.

The rules would also make speeding up or slowing down Web traffic — a tactic known as prioritization — illegal. And it would ban the blocking of Web traffic outright.

It all adds up to the most significant intervention ever undertaken by federal regulators to make sure the Web remains a level playing field. It is, depending on your ideology, either an unprecedented example of government overreach that will ruin the republic or the most egalitarian, pro-competitive thing the FCC may do in the 21st century.

“My proposal assures the rights of Internet users to go where they want, when they want,” Wheeler wrote, “and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.”

The FCC is expected to vote on Wheeler’s proposed rules on Feb. 26.

The draft rules seek to impose a modified version of Title II, which was originally written to regulate telephone companies. It will waive a number of provisions, including parts of the law that empower the FCC to set retail prices — something Internet providers fear above all.

However, contrary to many people’s expectations, the draft rules will also keep other parts of Title II that allow the FCC to:

  • enforce privacy rules on carriers
  • extract funds from Internet providers to be used as subsidies
  • make sure services such as Google Fiber can build new broadband pipes more easily, according to people familiar with the plan.

Internet providers won’t be asked to contribute to the subsidy fund, known as Universal Service, right away. The draft rules merely open the door to that obligation down the road should the FCC determine that step is necessary.

[The Universal Service Fund helps schools and libraries buy Internet service and reduces the cost of telephone service for low-income Americans. It also subsidizes connectivity for rural areas. If the FCC later decides to ask Internet providers to pay into the fund, the money would go toward these programs.]

In addition, senior FCC officials confirmed, Wheeler’s draft proposal applies strong rules to the Internet backbone — the part of the Web responsible for carrying Internet traffic to the doorstep of Comcast, Verizon and others before those companies ferry that content to you. The proposal stops short of laying down specific regulations there; it merely lays down the expectation that companies should not favor some Web traffic over others in that part of the network. But under the draft rules, the FCC will reserve the right to investigate deals such as the kind Netflix has signed with Comcast, Verizon and others in the Internet backbone. That’s a huge deal for Netflix.

“This is a historic moment for applying the Communications Act to preserve freedom of expression,” said Gene Kimmelman, president of the consumer group Public Knowledge. “By using targeted non-discrimination policing powers, I think the FCC chairman is doing more today to protect and promote freedom of expression than we’ve seen in decades of debate about how broadband services should be treated.”

The announcement reflects a major turning point for Internet regulation, and a huge moment in the history of the Web. Wheeler’s proposed rules stand to determine who — and how — Internet providers are allowed charge for services.

Wheeler’s proposal has Republican critics seething

“It is a power grab for the federal government by the chairman of a supposedly independent agency who finally succumbed to the bully tactics of political activists and the president himself,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, in a statement.

To understand the magnitude of what’s happening, consider this: Since Columbia Law scholar Tim Wu coined the term “net neutrality” in a seminal paper in 2003, the FCC has tried to implement net neutrality rules twice — and failed. Both times, the rules were struck down in court. Now, the FCC is trying a third time. And its leader — a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, no less — appears to be swinging for the fences.

For consumer groups that have been pressing for aggressive rules all along, this is a major victory. It’s a significant setback for Internet providers that wanted the flexibility to try new business models. And importantly, it’s the culmination of a year’s worth of reflection by Wheeler himself, who months ago was in a very different place on the issue.

Wheeler wasn’t always sold on what President Obama said should be the “strongest possible rules” for net neutrality.

Let’s rewind to last January, when a federal court tossed out the FCC’s existing rules on the grounds that the agency had exceeded its congressionally granted authority. In the wake of that ruling, Wheeler said he’d follow the court’s “roadmap” to a solution that would stay on the right side of the law.

In the spring, he rolled out a proposed rule that many ISPs liked but consumer groups hated. The problem? It tacitly allowed for Internet providers to speed up some forms of Web traffic in exchange for payment — a tactic known as paid prioritization. This is the one thing net neutrality rules were supposed to prevent.

The mere possibility of paid prioritization slipping through touched a nerve with grassroots activists, who argued that only Title II would be enough to keep the broadband industry from setting up a tiered Internet favoring wealthy, established businesses.
In a world with paid prioritization, they said, start-ups and small businesses would be shut out of the market because they couldn’t afford to pay ISPs for priority access to customers. They also wouldn’t be able to afford the legal fees associated with filing complaints to the FCC when abuses occurred.

Then came a late-night comedian named John Oliver. Oliver, who’d made a name for himself on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, took on the FCC’s initial proposal with a blistering, 14-minute rant that accused the agency of undermining net neutrality and even lobbed a few bombs at Wheeler himself.

“That is like needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo,” Oliver said. “They shouldn’t call it ‘Protecting Net Neutrality,’ they should call it ‘Stopping Cable Company F***ery.'”

Oliver’s net neutrality segment kicked the grassroots organizing machine into overdrive. Proponents of stronger rules flooded the FCC with millions of comments calling for Title II. By the end of the process, it had become clear that the public had spoken, despite a significant counter-effort by those backing the industry position.

Industry officials admit that they were outmaneuvered by the Internet activists, who kept the pressure on with protests outside the FCC and even a sit-in outside Wheeler’s house that prevented the 6-foot-4 chairman from driving to work in his Mini Cooper.

Meanwhile, other advocates of strong net neutrality were coming forward with alternative proposals that began gaining traction at the FCC in August and September. Mozilla, the maker of the popular Firefox browser, suggested that the FCC split the Internet in two. Apply Title II to the Internet backbone, it said, while leaving the part of the Internet between consumers and their Internet providers untouched under Title I. Tim Wu, the Columbia Law scholar, put forward his own proposal.

Momentum began building for a “hybrid” approach that leaned substantially on these proposals. Quietly, the FCC began talking to Internet providers, consumer groups and Web content companies about a compromise plan. The Wall Street Journal reported in October that a hybrid plan was in the works. It’s still unclear just how close the parties were to an agreement, but people close to the negotiations say the news alarmed the White House, which sought to intervene before the hybrid proposal could really get off the ground.

On Nov. 10, President Obama dropped a major statement on net neutrality — an unusual attempt by a president to influence a legally independent agency. The move set up a partisan confrontation with Republicans in Congress. Many believe that’s what prompted Obama to weigh in in the first place: His party had just lost a midterm election and net neutrality was a strong populist issue Democrats could lead on.

Regardless of Obama’s motivations, his statement had the effect of pushing Wheeler to abandon the hybrid plan and adopt Title II, numerous officials inside and outside the agency said.

“Oliver and the president were probably the two most prominent [turning points],” said an industry official, “and then a series of ongoing drip, drip, drip every day for several months” by grassroots protesters.

Brian Fung, Washington Post
Brian Fung

Brian Fung
Washington Post (The Switch)

Objection et rappel à Kababachir.com

Le site Kababachir.com reproduit entièrement les publications parues sur mon site du Camp Boiro Memorial. Dans la mesure où l’intention de l’administrateur du site est de participer à la dénonciation des crimes de Sékou Touré, je ne désapprouve pas l’initiative.

Objection

Mais j’élève une objection formelle au refus de l’éditeur de Kababachir.com de citer la source primaire, c’est-à-dire le Camp Boiro Memorial, que je publie depuis 1997. En n’indiquant pas qu’il dépendant d’une source extérieure, kababachir.com donne l’impression, frauduleuse, qu’il est à l’origine première de la version numérique de ces livres. En fait, il ne fait que reproduire des pans entiers du Camp Boiro Memorial. Sans le citer clairement et explicitement.

Voici quelques exemples :

  • http://www.kababachir.com/2015/02/03/jean-paul-alata-prison-dafrique-cinq-ans-les-geoles-guinee/
  • http://www.kababachir.com/2015/02/03/keita-koumandian-guinee-61-lecole-dictature/
  • http://www.kababachir.com/2015/02/03/camp-boiro-parler-perir-alseny-rene-gomez/

Et voici les liens (ULRs) originaux qui sont à la base des exemples précédents:

  • http://www.campboiro.org/bibliotheque/alata_jp/prison_afrique/tdm.html/
  • http://www.campboiro.org/bibliotheque/koumandian_keita/ecole_dictature/tdm.html
  • http://www.campboiro.org/bibliotheque/gomez_alseny/parler_perir/sommaire.html

Au-delà de l’infraction de la règle de référence aux sources originales, kababachir.com appauvrit mon travail en publiant des textes dépourvus d’hyperliens. En effet, il ne peut pas reproduire les liens internes que je place dans les paragraphes et pages du Camp Boiro Memorial. Cela lui est difficle parce qu’il n’a pas accès à mon code. Or c’est la méthode de publication avec hyperliens qui fait le succès du Web. Notamment parce qu’elle met de relier et d’intégrer des ouvrages et des domaines entiers de la connaissance. Elle fonde toute la fonctionnalité de Wikipédia, l’encyclopédie mondiale.

Bachir Kaba et tous les autres sites doivent se comporter professionnellement en indiquant précisément, en début et/ou en fin de texte, la source des publications qu’ils reproduisent.

Cette obligation est prescrite par des institutions spécialisées, des traités codificateurs et  des textes régulateurs. Elle protège juridiquement les droits et la propriété intellectuelle dérivant de la création originale de ressources d’information sur Internet.

Kababachir.com reproduit facilement mais incomplètement les témoignages sur le Camp Boiro. Mais qu’il n’oublie pas que quelqu’un, moi, procéda, un à un, au scanning et à la mise en page méthodique  (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) avant de les publier depuis maintenant 18 ans sur le Memorial.

Rappel au devoir

Dernier point et non le moindre : des millions de documents sur la Guinée  végètent encore sur papier, c’est-à-dire sous forme analogue, dans des livres ou des périodiques (journaux, revues, etc.)

La Guinée est le seul pays qui n’ait pas de bibliothèque nationale.

Cependant, grâce à Internet, on peut créer des catalogues, des collections bibliographiques, voire des bibliothèques numérique entières.

Il incombe donc à Kababachir.com et autres éditeurs de sites guinéens le devoir de numériser ce trésor analogue et de le publier sur le Web. Il ne faudrait pas  se contenter de reproduire les ouvrages déjà numérisés. Car cela fait piétiner la documentation sur la Guinée, au lieu de la faire avancer.

Tierno S. Bah
Fondateur/Editeur, Camp Boiro Memorial

Internet Monitor 2014

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Research Publication Series

Full Text  (155 pages) here

The Internet Monitor project’s second annual report —Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World— is a collection of roughly three dozen short contributions that highlight and discuss some of the most compelling events and trends in the digitally networked environment over the past year. The report focuses on the interplay between technological platforms and policy; growing tensions between protecting personal privacy and using big data for social good; the implications of digital communications tools for public discourse and collective action; and current debates around the future of Internet governance.
This year we are especially excited to share our “Year in Review” interactive timeline, which highlights the year’s most fascinating Internet-related news stories, from censorship to Heartbleed to the Pirate Bay raid just last week.
We’ve also included a “By the Numbers” section that is slightly tongue-in-cheek and offers a look at the year’s “important” digital statistics such as the number of tweets per minute in 2014 (up 155,000 from last year) and the number of the top 100 accounts on Twitter that belong to Bollywood stars.

This publication is the second annual report of the Internet Monitor project at the Berkman Centerfor Internet & Society at Harvard University. As with the inaugural report, this year’s edition is a collaborative effort of the extended Berkman community. Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World includes nearly three dozen contributions from friends and colleagues around the world that highlight and discuss some of the most compelling events and trends in the digitally networked environment over the past year.

The result, intended for a general interest audience, brings together reflection and analysis on a broad range of issues and regions—from an examination of Europe’s “right to be forgotten” to a review of the current state of mobile security to an exploration of a new wave of movements attempting to counter hate speech online—and offers it up for debate and discussion. Our goal remains not to provide a definitive assessment of the “state of the Internet” but rather to provide a rich compendium of commentary on the year’s developments with respect to the online space.

Last year’s report examined the dynamics of Internet controls and online activity through the actions of government, corporations, and civil society. We focus this year on the interplay between technological platforms and policy; growing tensions between protecting personal privacy and using big data for social good; the implications of digital communications tools for public discourse and collective action; and current debates around the future of Internet governance.

The report reflects the diversity of ideas and input the Internet Monitor project seeks to invite. Some of the contributions are descriptive; others prescriptive. Some contain purely factual observations; others offer personal opinion. In addition to those in traditional essay format, contributions this year include a speculative fiction story exploring what our increasingly data-driven world might bring, a selection of “visual thinking” illustrations that accompany a number of essays, a “Year in Review” timeline that highlights many of the year’s most fascinating Internet-related news stories (and an interactive version of which is available at thenetmonitor.org), and a slightly tongue-in-cheek “By the Numbers” section that offers a look at the year’s important digital statistics. We believe that each contribution offers insights, and hope they provoke further reflection, conversation, and debate in both offline and online settings around the globe.

Table of Contents

By the Numbers
Year in Review

Adrienne Debigare, Rebekah Heacock Jones, and Jiou Park

Platforms and Policy

Robert Faris and Rebekah Heacock Jones

  • SOPA Lives: Copyright’s Existing Power to Block Websites and “Break the Internet”
    Andrew Sellars
  • ABC v. Aereo, Innovation, and the Cloud
    Christopher T. Bavitz
  • The Spanish Origins of the European “Right to be Forgotten”: The Mario Costeja and Les Alfacs Cases
    Ana Azurmendi
  • Troubling Solution to a Real Problem
    Jonathan Zittrain
  • Community Mesh Networks: The Tradeoff Between Privacy, Openness, and Security
    Primavera De Filippi
  • Warrant Canaries Beyond the First Amendment
    Jonathon W. Penney
  • Net Neutrality and Intermediary Liability in Argentina
    Eduardo Bertoni
  • Sexting, Minors, and US Legislation: When Laws Intended to Protect Have Unintended Consequences
    Monica Bulger
  • Devices, Design, and Digital News for India’s Next Billion Internet Users
    Hasit Shah
  • Dispute Resolution in the Sharing Economy
    Ethan Katsh and Orna Rabinovich-Einy

Data and Privacy
Robert Faris and Rebekah Heacock Jones

  • Data Revolutions: Bottom-Up Participation or Top-Down Control?
    Tim Davies
  • Everything is Data. Yes, Even Development
    Malavika Jayaram
  • Mapping the Data Ecosystem
    Sara M. Watson
  • Mapping the Next Frontier of Open Data: Corporate Data Sharing
    Stefaan G. Verhulst and David Sangokoya
  • The Social and Technical Tribulations of Data Privacy in a Mobile Society
    Adrienne Debigare and Nathan Freitas
  • The Future of the Internet—and How to Secure It
    Andy Ellis
  • Data Protection and Privacy Law: Where Regulators Are King?
    Neal Cohen
  • Toward a New Approach to Data Protection in the Big Data Era
    Alessandro Mantelero
  • In the Age of the Web, What Does “Public” Mean?
    David R. O’Brien
  • Code is Law, But Law is Increasingly Determining the Ethics of Code
    Jonathon W. Penney
  • Dada Data and the Internet of Paternalistic Things
    Sara M. Watson

Public Discourse

Robert Faris

  • Flower Speech: New Responses to Hatred Online
    Susan Benesch
  • Facing Unthinkable Threats to Online Speech: Extreme Violence in Mexico and the Middle East
    Ellery Biddle
  • The Use of the Internet to Enforce Religious Hegemony in Saudi Arabia
    Helmi Noman
  • #BBUM and New Media Blacktivism
    Clarence Wardell
  • How Activism and the Internet Can Change Policy
    James Losey
  • Narratives of Conflict: What the 2014 Gaza War Can Tell Us About Discourse on the Internet
    Sands Fish and Dalia Othman
  • Who Do We Trust When Talking About Digital News in Spain?
    Charo Sádaba
  • Why Blogs Still Matter to the Young
    Alison J. Head
  • The Podemos Phenomenon
    Jordi Rodriguez Virgili

International Issues: Transnational Legal Tensions and Internet Governance

Robert Faris and Rebekah Heacock Jones

  • The Rise of Information Sovereignty
    Shawn Powers
  • Boundless Courts and a Borderless Internet
    Vivek Krishnamurthy
  • The Great Firewall Welcomes You!
    Nathan Freitas
  • Toward an Enhanced Role of Academia in the Debates About the Future of Internet Governance—From Vision to Practice
    Urs Gasser
  • Proliferation of “Internet Governance”
    Rolf H. Weber

Looking Forward

Robert Faris

The 2014 Web Report. Rising Global Inequality

In the just released 2014 Report, the World Wide Web inventor, Berners-Lee, declares: “It’s time to recognise the Internet as a basic human right.”

Growing inequality is one of the defining challenges of our time. What role can the World Wide Web play in tackling it?

Tim Berners-Lee
Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Seven out of 10 people live in countries where the gap between rich and poor is greater than it was 30 years ago, according to Oxfam research. In some countries these disparities are reaching levels last seen before the Great Depression.

Inequality topped the World Economic Forum’s annual survey of global risks this year, while the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine LaGarde, recently warned that rising inequality is choking economic growth, and leaving “a wasteland of discarded potential” in its wake.

This discarded potential is the most damaging effect of inequality, eroding the chance for people to make a better life for themselves and making poverty a permanent trap passed on from parents to children.

The Web’s power to help restore equality of opportunity is clear. Twenty-five years ago Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at CERN took a momentous decision not to patent the Web, which led to a remarkable democratisation of its capabilities. Today, armed with little more than a smartphone, anyone — regardless of where they were born or how much they earn — can start a business, record a music video, crowdfund an invention, take courses with Nobel Prize-winning professors, or even launch a successful campaign for office. As the examples of Korea, Brazil, Estonia and Iceland demonstrate, the Web has three critical contributions to make to fighting inequality:

  • Expanding access to knowledge, information and skills
  • Enabling wider political participation and voice
  • Lowering barriers for small and micro enterprise to innovate, compete and succeed

But we can’t take the equalising power of the Internet for granted. Current trends suggest that we now stand at a crossroads between a Web “for everyone”, which strengthens democracy and creates equal opportunity for all, or a “winner takes all” Web that further concentrates economic and political power in the hands of a few.

Already, overall scores for the Web’s contribution to development and human rights are strongly correlated with wealth.
The higher a country’s per capita income, the higher its Web Index ranking.
In part, this is because access is still heavily skewed to those living in high income countries. An estimated 4.4 billion people — mostly poor, female, rural and living in developing countries — have no access to the Internet at all.

  • While Internet use has soared from around 45% to 78% in high-income countries since 2005, in low-income countries it has remained below 10% year after year. Internet penetration grew by only one percentage point per year from 2011-2013 in low-income countries. (ITU)
  • In the poorest countries, the relative costs of basic Internet access remain over 80 times higher than in the rich world — while Internet use is 10 times lower.

But digital divides also exist within countries.
First, the skills and education needed to fully benefit from technology are very unevenly distributed. According to the IMF and OECD, the Internet revolution is increasing the wage gap between the very highly skilled and everyone else, making technological progress the single biggest factor driving income inequality in both advanced and developing countries.
Second, powerful state actors and economic elites are gaining more control over what ordinary people can do and say online.

  • At least 1.8 billion Internet users have little or no right to privacy or freedom of expression online thanks to pervasive surveillance or censorship.
  • Legal safeguards against government snooping on our communications were eroded or bypassed in many countries in the past year, with 84% of Web Index countries failing our test for basic privacy safeguards, up from 63% in the 2013 Index.
  • Almost 40% of countries blocked politically or socially sensitive Web content to a moderate or extreme degree in the past year, up from 32% in 2013.
  • In 74% of Web Index countries, lack of net neutrality means that ability to pay may limit the content and services users can access.
  • One in five female Internet users live in countries where harassment and abuse of women online is extremely unlikely to be punished.

Third, governments and donors have yet to invest enough in putting the power of the Web in the hands of the poor and marginalised, leaving some groups even further behind:

  • Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in most middle- and low-income countries are realising only small gains from ICTs, whereas SMEs in most of the developed world have seen large benefits from the Web.
  • Farmers can use their phones to access market price information, weather warnings, and extension advice in most rich countries, but hardly in any low or middle-income countries.
  • Locally relevant information on sexual and reproductive health rights and services and gender-based violence is available via phone or browser in only 37% of countries.
  • Education is a bright spot, with over 80% of high-income countries and almost 50% of low- and middle-income countries expanding the use of technology in poor and marginalised schools.

If inequality is the challenge of our time, then we must take steps now to ensure the most powerful technology of our era helps us to overcome, not increase it.

Currently, the means and freedoms to fully utilise the Web are within reach of only one in seven people on the planet. While over four billion unconnected people enjoy no rights to the Internet at all, the rights of another two
billion Internet users are severely restricted.

Now is the time to take positive steps to recognise the Internet as a basic human right and ensure the open Web belongs to all of us.

The Web Index

Obama endorses Net neutrality

Obama to the FCC: Adopt ‘the strongest possible rules’ on net neutrality, including Title II.

President Obama on Monday called for the government to aggressively regulate Internet service providers such as Verizon and Comcast, treating broadband like a public utility as essential as water, phone service and electricity.

Such a move would have a dramatic effect on cable and telecom firms that have fought vigorously to keep their highly profitable Internet businesses free of regulation.

This is Obama’s most aggressive statement yet in favor of a free and open Internet and against allowing Internet service providers to charge content companies like Netflix for faster access to their customers. The president’s statement, released online Monday while he traveled to Asia, calls for the FCC to adopt the strictest rules possible for ensuring so-called net neutrality, or the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

“I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online,” Obama said in a statement.

The debate comes as government regulators grapple with how to best protect consumers as the Internet becomes more essential to their lives.  The FCC received 3.9 million comments on its latest net neutrality proposal, most from consumers asking for protection from “Internet fast lanes.” Hundreds of protesters descended on the White House last week and several blocked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s driveway this morning as he tried to leave for the office.

“I am asking the Federal Communications Commission to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality,” Obama said.

Obama urged Wheeler to “reclassify” ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon under Title II of the Communications Act, giving the agency more power over how the companies operate.  Advocates of this approach say that under Title II, the FCC would have substantial powers to prohibit carriers from blocking Web traffic or favoring some services over others.

The idea is controversial, but popular among net neutrality advocates who want to ensure that ISPs cannot block or slow Internet traffic to consumers.

Telecom providers such as Verizon oppose the measure and have said that they would fight it in court. The industry quickly pushed back against the White House proposal Monday.

“Reclassification under Title II, which for the first time would apply 1930s-era utility regulation to the Internet, would be a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threaten great harm to an open Internet, competition and innovation. That course will likely also face strong legal challenges and would likely not stand up in court,” Verizon said in a statement.

Wheeler has said that he is open to using Title II to regulate ISPs as well as other approaches. In a statement Monday, Wheeler said he was “grateful for the input of the president” and that the FCC would “incorporate the President’s submission into the record.”

“Like the President, I believe that the Internet must remain an open platform for free expression, innovation, and economic growth,” Wheeler said. “We both oppose Internet fast lanes.”

Net neutrality proponents welcomed Obama’s plan.

“Obama’s statement really gave us everything we wanted,” said Kevin Zeese, an advocate for the public interest group Fight for the Future. “I don’t think Obama would make this statement thinking that Wheeler isn’t going to follow his advice.”

Obama added that the FCC should extend its net neutrality rules to cellular carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint, a proposal that has drawn resistance from wireless providers in the past. Meredith Attwell Baker, the wireless industry’s top lobbyist, said applying Title II-style regulation on cellular providers would be “a gross overreaction.”

Obama has long spoken against allowing ISPs to charge Web companies for better, smoother access to consumers. But those statements did not include any specific policy.

Monday’s announcement marked a significant departure, with Obama endorsing a proposal that goes much further than a middle-ground approach the FCC was said to have been considering.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FCC was weighing a “hybrid” policy on net neutrality. The compromise attempted to blend elements of Title II-style regulation with the more limited regulations sought by broadband providers.

Legal analysts from both sides quickly pounced on the idea as unworkable, saying it was too exotic a theory to survive a court challenge. The proposal would have split the Internet into two parts. The relationship between an ISP and its customer would constitute one part, while the ISP’s relationship with content companies such as Netflix would constitute another. The FCC would then have applied Title II only to the latter part — a partial reclassification.

But critics said splitting a communications service this way would be largely unprecedented for the agency, raising questions about whether it would be legally defensible.

The stock price of several major broadband providers took a dive after Obama’s statement was released. Shares of Comcast and Time Warner Cable were down nearly 4 percent by late morning.

Brian Fung
The Washington Post