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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Obama Net-Neutrality Stance May Spur Fight With GOP - His Call Has Hardened Lines on Web-Traffic Regulation

From The Wall Street Journal:

At its heart, the battle is over the best way to ensure the Internet remains the vibrant heart of the U.S. economy. Conservatives and broadband providers believe the Internet has flourished in the U.S. because its hasn’t been heavily regulated. Supporters of net neutrality—the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally—believe the government must intervene to preserve online innovation.

Mr. Obama specifically called for the Federal Communications Commission to go beyond its previous proposals and explicitly ban broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or giving preferential treatment to some websites. To achieve that, he said, the FCC should classify broadband as a utility or common carrier, which would open up the industry to greater regulation.

But changing how broadband providers are classified is politically volatile, in large part because the law used to regulate the telecommunications industry hasn’t been updated significantly since 1996, when broadband Internet access was still in its infancy.

The political divide over the rules for broadband is long-standing. In 2010, after the FCC passed its last set of net-neutrality rules, which were thrown out by a court in January, the GOP-controlled House responded by writing FCC “process reform” legislation that would have gutted the agency’s ability to write new regulations. That bill went nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Now the GOP will have more leverage in the Senate. As long as Mr. Obama is president, Republicans will have to contend with his veto pen. But they can voice their displeasure in other ways, such as squeezing the FCC’s budget.

In any case, many in Mr. Obama’s party don’t expect him to back down because net neutrality is one of the few technology issues he focused on during his 2008 campaign and he has never wavered in his support for the issue.

While Mr. Obama’s endorsement of reclassifying broadband as a utility shocked some in the broadband industry, his Silicon Valley supporters and Democrats in Washington saw it as a boost for their cause at a crucial time—a week after his party performed poorly in the midterm elections.

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