Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Breaking: FCC’s Copps Voting “Yes” on Net Neutrality Plan

The waiting is all but over. Michael Copps, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission, says he plans to vote in favor of Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposed rules on network neutrality. This makes the passage of the rules in a vote scheduled for tomorrow a virtual certainty. Copps was seen as the only swing vote on the five-member commission, and had been the target of recent lobbying efforts.

Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in a separate statement that she plans to vote in favor of the rules, while Republicans Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker have both promised to vote against them.

Copps’s statement is below.

“These past three weeks have been devoted on my part to intensive discussions about ensuring the continued openness of the Internet and putting consumers, not Big Phone and Big Cable, in maximum control of their online experiences. I have been fighting for nearly a decade to make sure the Internet doesn’t travel down the same road of special interest consolidation and gate-keeper control that other media and telecommunications industries–radio, television, film and cable–have traveled. What an historic tragedy it would be to let that fate befall the dynamism of the Internet. The item we will vote on tomorrow is not the one I would have crafted. But I believe we have been able to make the current iteration better than what was originally circulated. If vigilantly and vigorously implemented by the Commission — and if upheld by the courts–it could represent an important milestone in the ongoing struggle to safeguard the awesome opportunity-creating power of the open Internet. While I cannot vote wholeheartedly to approve the item, I will not block it by voting against it. I instead plan to concur so that we may move forward. I do thank the Chairman for his engagement, and I owe a special debt of gratitude to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for her thoughtful and creative work to improve this item.”

Reactions are quickly coming from net neutrality advocates. First out of the gate is FreePress, a nonpartisan advocacy group. Its Managing Director Craig Aaron isn’t happy.

“We are deeply disappointed that this Commission appears to be moving forward with deeply flawed rules that don’t live up to the promises of the president or the FCC chairman to protect the free and open Internet. These rules appear to be flush with giant loopholes, and the FCC chairman seems far more concerned with winning the endorsement of AT&T and the cable lobbyists than with listening to the millions of Americans who have pleaded with him to fix his proposal. This short-sighted decision is all too familiar to those who have watched the Obama administration and its appointees squander the opportunity for real change in favor of industry-written compromises that reward the biggest players from Wall Street to health care and now the Internet. There is overwhelming public support for real Net Neutrality, and this setback won’t stop those fighting to save the Internet.”

Next up is Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge–another advocacy group:

The actions by the Federal Communications Commission fall far short of what they could have been. Instead of a rule that would protect everyone, from consumers to applications developers from predatory practices of telephone and cable companies, the Commission settled for much less. Instead of strong, firm rules providing clear protections, the Commission created a vague and shifting landscape open to interpretation. Consumers deserved better. The FCC should have fought for consumers, not put the burden on them to fight for their rights.