Obama’s tech team filled with net neutrality advocates

Last week I posted an article about the ubiquitous presence (and sponsor support) of AT&T at the Democratic Convention so I wondered whether an Obama administration would really push for net neutrality. Several people pointed out that Barack Obama has always been a proponent of net neutrality and is well aware of the lack of broadband competition in the US.

His stand on net neutrality is posted on the Obama website:

“A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history. It needs to stay that way. Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet. Users must be free to access content, to use applications, and to attach personal devices. They have a right to receive accurate and honest information about service plans. But these guarantees are not enough to prevent network providers from discriminating in ways that limit the freedom of expression on the Internet. Because most Americans only have a choice of only one or two broadband carriers, carriers are tempted to impose a toll charge on content and services, discriminating against websites that are unwilling to pay for equal treatment. This could create a two-tier Internet in which websites with the best relationships with network providers can get the fastest access to consumers, while all competing websites remain in a slower lane. Such a result would threaten innovation, the open tradition and architecture of the Internet, and competition among content and backbone providers. It would also threaten the equality of speech through which the Internet has begun to transform American political and cultural discourse. Barack Obama supports the basic principle that network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or applications of some web sites and Internet applications over others. This principle will ensure that the new competitors, especially small or non-profit speakers, have the same opportunity as incumbents to innovate on the Internet and to reach large audiences. Obama will protect the Internet’s traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a platform for free speech and innovation that will benefit consumers and our democracy.”

(http://www.barackobama.com/issues/technology)

Moreover, Obama’s tech advisors include Reed Hundt (former FCC Commissioner during the Clinton administration), Professors Larry Lessig and Timothy Wu, and Kevin Werbach, all of whom are keen on opening up the US broadband market to real competition. Read more about who’s on Obama’s tech team.

But as Harold Feld of the Media Access Project says it’s not over even if Obama wins the election: “Anyone who thinks net neutrality will be _given_ to us just by electing Ds instead of Rs is kidding themselves and always was. But that is true for every issue. This is not something settled by electing “the right people” and then going home. Representative democracy only works when citizens stay engaged.”

Comments

  1. Brett Glass says

    This position is shortsighted and demonstrates what happens when Washington lobbyists try to take on tasks which are more properly handled by engineers. Saying that there should not be different tiers of Internet service would be akin to banning UPS or FedEx from having “Red,” “Blue,” and “ground” classes of service, based on the absurd notion that no one deserves to be able to pay to have his package arrive faster than someone else! This is silly, of course; you should be able to pay more for urgent delivery, and the little guys as well as the big ones benefit from having premium service available.

    The “network neutrality” lobbyists also want to prevent network operators from stopping bandwidth hogging by software such as BitTorrent, which try to monpolize the network. This is a show stopper for municipal networks; if they can’t stop bandwidth hogging, they will not be able to control their costs nor will they be able to provide reasonable quality of service.