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Former Lobbyist Who Heads FCC Says He Wants More 'Nuanced' Approach On Net Neutrality

Wheeler's plan would acquiesce to some of the president's demands, but would also kowtow to the demands of huge internet providers.
Former Lobbyist Who Heads FCC Says He Wants More 'Nuanced' Approach On Net Neutrality
Image from: Free Press Pics

This is a surprise -- not! I mean, you put a lobbyist in the position, they're going to act like a lobbyist. So how hard will Obama lobby his lobbyist to get real net neutrality? Inquiring minds want to know:

Yesterday, President Obama took a strong position on net neutrality by supporting calls to regulate the internet more like a utility. Less than 24 hours later, FCC head Tom Wheeler indicated that he would break from the president's proposed plan, moving in a new direction intended to pacify huge internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

The Washington Post reports that Wheeler told a group of internet companies — including Google, Yahoo, and Etsy — that he favored a more "nuanced" solution than that laid out by Obama. Wheeler's plan would acquiesce to some of the president's demands, but would also kowtow to the demands of huge internet providers.

The Washington Post says that Wheeler now thinks Obama's plan — something of a hail Mary attempt to get young and tech-savvy voters energized to vote for the Democrats — is too simplistic. But there have been worries about Wheeler's corporate focus since he was appointed FCC head in 2013. Wheeler spent many years as a lobbyist for large telecom companies — while working in Washington for The Wireless Association, America's main wireless lobbying group, Wheeler supported limiting net neutrality policies and argued that the FCC should leave big businesses to do what they wanted in the space. President Obama originally stated that he would not hire lobbyists to his administration, but quickly broke that promise.

According to four sources, Wheeler was reportedly "visibly frustrated" during the meeting, telling attendees that "what you want is what everyone wants: an open internet that doesn't affect your business." Wheeler, a Democrat, said he had to work out how to "split the baby" to keep both sides happy, but also repeatedly stated that he did not answer directly to the US government. Sources report the FCC head repeated "I am an independent agency" multiple times during the meeting.


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