President Obama: Stop your FCC and protect the Internet

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Tell President Obama: Fix the FCC and protect the Internet

Tell President Obama:
"FCC Chair Tom Wheeler is advancing a plan that would kill the open Internet. It's time to live up to your promise and stop him."

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Dear 5849376,

Net Neutrality now.

Even with the Republicans taking control of Congress, we can still achieve something hugely important — protecting the open Internet. And at this moment it is in serious peril.

Over the last four months, you and more than 3 million Americans called on the FCC to enact strong rules to protect the open Internet. But it's apparently not enough for Tom Wheeler, President Obama's chair of the agency.

Last Thursday, Wheeler unveiled a sham proposal in the Wall Street Journal1 that, according to the paper, would leave would room for the creation of fast and slow lanes on the Internet — precisely what President Obama has promised to prevent.2 What's more, the approach is so convoluted that it's not even likely to survive a court challenge.3

Wheeler has now gone rogue twice4 — ignoring the path suggested by the courts for protecting the Internet, and ignoring the voices of millions of Americans and countless consumer interest groups who have pleaded with him to do the right thing and prioritize the interests of the public over a handful of huge corporations. His actions are a betrayal of the FCC's own process and the public interest.

But we can fix this. President Obama put Wheeler in office and promised us that he "would take a back seat to no one" in protecting the open Internet. It's time for him to make good on his promise.

Tell President Obama: Rein in FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and make good on your promise to protect the Internet now and for generations to come. Click here to sign the petition.

Twice the courts have told the FCC what it needs to do to protect the open Internet: reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service. It's the only way to prevent big ISPs like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T from creating fast and slow lanes on the net and picking winners in losers on the net. Academics, lawyers, and computer scientists all agree, and it's legally straightforward to do — it's just a matter having the political will.

For the last six months, Wheeler has been silent, holed up in his office in DC, watching the public's 3.7 million comments come in, but refusing to indicate the direction he will take. Then on Thursday, in a surprise move, he put forward an untested, unvetted, so-called "hybrid" plan. Lawyers across the board agree that the plan is confusing and far less likely to be enforceable in the face of court challenges, which the ISPs have already said will come, even with a hybrid plan.5 And worse, as the Wall Street Journal indicates, the plan would allow "broadband providers to cut deals with content companies for special access to customers." It opens the door for exactly what the president has promised to prevent.

Wheeler is truly alone here. Even the authors of the plans Wheeler has drawn from in creating his hybrid agree with the American people and the public interest groups. Tim Wu, the person who coined the term "Net Neutrality," and Mozilla, the maker of the FireFox browser, offered "hybrid" plans back in the spring, but only because it seemed that reclassification was off the table because of politics. They were trying to come up with something better than the abysmal 706 plan that the chairman was then considering (which is even worse than the hybrid plan). Both Wu and Mozilla have repeatedly said that straight reclassification — as the courts have suggested — is better than their own plans: it's cleaner, simpler, would clearly prevent paid prioritization (which would create fast and slow lanes) and far more likely to hold up in court.

Some have pointed out that Wheeler's past as a telecom/cable lobbyist may explain his behavior, that he is trying to help the ISPs get what they want. Others believe that he's trying to find some way to get political cover given the tremendous influence of the telecom and cable lobby in D.C., and the fact that the industry is trying to avoid regulation.

Whatever the reason, it's becoming clear that Wheeler is failing to show the courage and political will necessary to do what's required to protect the open Internet.

We've asked you to make your voices heard at the FCC, and you've done that. But Chairman Wheeler isn't listening.

Tell President Obama: Rein in FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and make good on your promise to protect the Internet now and for generations to come. Click here to sign the petition.

In the wake of a brutal election, we wouldn't be asking this if it weren't absolutely urgent. Please join me in taking action now.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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  1. "FCC 'Net Neutrality' Plan Calls for More Power Over Broadband." Wall Street Journal, 10-30-14.
  2. "President Obama Confident FCC Will Use Its Authority to Save Net Neutrality." Free Press, 2-1-14.
  3. "No Compromise: FCC Should Reject Risky, Confusing "Hybrid" Net Neutrality." Electronic Frontier Foundation, 11-3-14.
  4. "Net-Neutrality Advocates Angered by FCC's Planned New Rules." Time, 4-23-14.
  5. "Verizon: ISPs will sue unless government adopts weaker net neutrality rules." Ars Technica, 4-4-14.

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