Although President Obama recently strongly urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support total net neutrality, the agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, states that he won't be swayed by the White House.
Net neutrality is the hot button topic in politics now, and the decision made by the FCC will affect not just multibillion dollar industries, but also businesses and consumers that use the Internet.
Earlier this week, President Obama suggested that Internet service providers be reclassified as public utilities, which would make those companies subject to heavier regulations. The President also urged the FCC to not allow Internet fast lanes, which would give faster service to those businesses on the Internet who pay for it.
President Obama's position on net neutrality is not unpopular. In fact, the majority of Americans support total net neutrality. A recent poll done by the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication found that 81 percent of Americans are against allowing big Internet service providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, on enacting Internet fast lanes. Perhaps what is most surprising about the poll is that net neutrality is bipartisan: both Democrats and Republicans agree on the subject.
So why does it seem that Wheeler is not listening to the American public or the President? Part of that might have something to do with his history. Wheeler was once a lobbyist for the cable and telecommunications industry.
Even after over 4 million Americans responded to the FCC's request for opinions on the matter, with almost all supporting net neutrality, a recently leaked proposal from the FCC allows for Internet fast lanes.
When asked about the issue, Wheeler recently replied, "I am an independent agency." That statement begs to ask the question, where do other members of the FCC stand on the issue?
Of course, there are legislators who support the Internet service providers in this issue and think net neutrality is bad for the country. Senator Ted Cruz called net neutrality "Obamacare for the Internet." Of course, that statement comes after the Senator took campaign funds from Internet service provider Comcast.
It doesn't matter, though, what the President, the American public and legislators think about net neutrality. The decision is ultimately up to the FCC. But we have to ask the question: will the agency make the right choice?
Wheeler believes the issue is more complicated than most Americans, and the President, understand.
"What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn't affect your business," Wheeler says. "What I've got to figure out is how to split the baby."
[Photo Credit: Stephen D. Melkisethian/Flickr]