Free Press: Not Reclassifying Title II Would Kill Net Neutrality

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Free Press expressed disbelief at a report that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski may be leaning toward not reclassifying broadband Internet service under Title II, though that option has always been on the table.

The network neutrality fans were responding to a report in The Washington Post that the chairman was "leaning toward" not doing so, but the story suggested he was also weighing the downside of trying to justify network management and other network neutrality authority under its current Title I classification.

A spokesperson for the chairman had no comment on the story, though a source said it did not come from his office.

The chairman has kept his cards close to the vest over what the FCC might do in the wake of the federal court smack down of its Comcast/BitTorrent network management decision, but has pledged to find a legal underpinning for both network openness and transparency and a raft of initiatives under the national broadband plan, most prominently the shifting of Universal Service funds from phone service to broadband.

But Free Press as much as said it was Title II or the highway.

"We simply cannot believe that Julius Genachowski would consider going down this path. Failing to reclassify broadband means the FCC is abandoning the signature communications and technology issues of the Obama administration," said Free Press executive director Josh Silver. "Such a decision would destroy net neutrality. It would deeply undermine the FCC's ability to ensure universal Internet access for rural, low-income and disabled Americans. It will undermine the FCC's ability to protect consumers from price-gouging and invasions of privacy....Genachowski should not buckle to phone and cable industry pressure, but it will take courage to stand up to one of the biggest lobbying juggernauts in Washington."

The FCC also refused comment on a report in Communications Daily that the commission was considering getting outside advisers to help with the Comcast/NBCU merger review, which is on hold as it collects more info. The move would not be a big surprise given this commission's emphasis on tapping expertise wherever it can find it, including for the national broadband plan and inquiry into the future of journalism.

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