Media advocacy Free Press flagged a recent question-and-answer session held by President Barack Obama in which it strongly appeared that his stance on network neutrality is at odds of that of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Free Press attributed the following remarks to Obama:
“I made a commitment very early on that I am unequivocally committed to Net Neutrality,” Obama said to applause from the audience. “I think it is what has unleashed the power of the Internet, and we don’t want to lose that or clog up the pipes.
“I know that one of the things people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet: That is something I’m opposed to.
“My appointee, Tom Wheeler, knows my position. I can’t — now that he’s there — I can’t just call him up and tell him exactly what to do. But what I’ve been clear about, what the White House has been clear about, is that we expect that whatever final rules emerge, to make sure that we’re not creating two or three or four tiers of Internet. That ends up being a big priority of mine.”
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron believes that Wheeler’s approach does not square up with Obama’s opinion.
“Title II is what we need,” said Aaron, “not another convoluted compromise or not-so-clever scheme that will never survive a court challenge. Title II is the only way to prevent the sort of discrimination and tiered Internet the president warned us about. Yet thus far Wheeler seems afraid to take this essential step, favoring an approach that would clearly encourage online discrimination and strand startups, small businesses and everyday Internet users in the slow lane.”
Aaron concluded, ““There’s no doubt that Wheeler has lost political support for his proposal. He is opposed by the president, leaders in Congress and millions and millions of Americans. It’s time for Wheeler to abandon his plan and commit to using the agency’s Title II authority to protect real Net Neutrality.”