Net Neutrality as “Public Option”? and “Fourth Amendment”?

According to Internet rumors and frantic emails that I get from places like Save The Internet, the Obama administration is about to pull a “FISA” option, in which a once staunchly supported progressive/democratic/public good position is abandoned in the name of “pragmatism” (or, as I prefer to call it, “corporatism & permanent-security-state-ism”). Wetmachine friend Matthew Saroff has more. Not sure if all hope is lost or time to storm the barricades or have a beer and be happy. Hoping for some guidance from Mr. Feld on this one.

Minor edits for clarity. See comments for more.


  1. I’ve made it very clear I think this story is false. I do not believe Larry Summers had anything to do with Susan leaving. The American Spectator story is the sort of innuendo that is irrefutable by logic, since it boils down to: “Well of course there wouldn’t be any _evidence_, but it is all so rational and fits so well with what I want to believe I chose to believe it.”

    We certainly need public pressure to keep folks on the straight path. The Administration faces enormous pressure to back away and this pressure must be balanced with pressure to stand firm. But we should begin with the premise that we are pushing people to stand firm not with the premise that we have been sold out.

  2. Harold in light of the recent memorandum from the 3 judge panel @ DC 1, do you really think that there is any rational expectation of any further fruit from the Net Neutrality grapevine? We’re back to 2003 for most purposes. So I could see the Obama administration ‘cooling it’ for a while as they have other fish on the front burner right now.

  3. JohnMc: Possibly they will. But the article was written about speakers who were speaking before the oral argument was known.

    As for the impact of the oral argument, it will be very interesting to see how it plays out. Before Comcast brought its appeal, there was speculation that losing the case would be worse for Comcast than winning, because it would force Congress’ hand. I also expect that if the FCC loses on authority grounds (rather than process grounds), they will appeal to the Surprmes, as they did when they lost Brand X. Because losing on authority grounds is rather more substantial than simply network neutrality. It is any authority over any internet activity, such as interconnection — which is the sine qua non of maintaining a coherent web and web based services. How many customers do AT&T and VZ need to lose before they start degrading Comcast-originated VOIP calls? Remember, if the FCC loses on the authority issue here, _Madison River_ is out the window.

  4. I wrote this post in haste before running out the door to catch a ferry this morning. So please let me take this opportunity to make a few clarifications.

    1) Matthew Saroff is a friend of Wetmachine. I left out the word “friend” in the original post, which made the intent of that sentence perhaps vague.

    2) Harold, I should have made clear that my question was about the Obama administration’s support for Net Neutrality (as opposed to support for the teleco’s), not about Susan Crawford’s departure. I read and appreciated your post on her “Cincinnatus-like” service, and I don’t doubt you or Susan for an instant about that. I apologize for failing to make that clear in my post. Fear of missing a boat in the morning degrades one’s editorial acuity, I’m afraid. I just included the link to Matthew’s post because it was the first one that I came upon, & I was in a hurry. I didn’t mean to raise the whole “Susan resigned under Summers pressure” cannard. My bad.

    As I’ve noted here on Wetmachine, Obama’s vote for the FISA bill that he had promised to filibuster pretty much destroyed any possibility that I’ll ever trust him or his policy positions relating to telecommunications ever again (or, trust him in general, actually). (I quit the Democratic Party over this issue, so it’s at least that important to me.)

    I do trust Harold, however, and that’s a commutative property: If Harold trusts Susan Crawford, I trust her.

    About the Obama administration and Net Neutrality, however, I do confess that I’m still worried and confused.

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