One thing’s becoming increasingly clear in the net neutrality debate: No proposal is going to make everyone happy.
And that was particularly apparent following President Obama’s statement Monday, which favored creating strong net neutrality regulations. There wasn’t much that was new in what he proposed–for example, classifying internet service providers (ISPs) as utilities and regulating them accordingly has been kicked around since 2010.
Nonetheless, the president’s plan provoked a firestorm of reaction. While net neutrality proponents enthusiastically supported the proposal, which would fit ISPs under the stringent Title II section of the Telecommunications Act, opponents said the proposal was heavy-handed and would destroy the internet.
More specifically, they say it would impose a 20th-century standard on 21st-century technology. Regulating the internet like a public utility will throttle broadband and internet innovation, critics suggest, and stultify the free functioning of the Web. It would also represent an overreach of the authority of the FCC, they note.
Let’s face it, though. The president’s plan was just as unpopular as the road map Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler floated a week ago. In that plan, Wheeler proposed splitting the difference by regulating ISPs under Title II when it comes to their dealings with other businesses, such as large content providers. When it comes to consumers, ISPs would be regulated under the less stringent section 706 of the Telecommunications Act.
Opponents said that plan could easily trigger service differences for consumers, including the dreaded fast and slow lanes, depending on how much they are willing to pay. Proponents of Wheeler’s hybrid approach, of which there were admittedly few, said the plan might be marginally workable, but probably would not hold up to a court challenge.
Here’s a sampling of opinions on the president’s net neutrality proposal:
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