FCC's McDowell: let the big cable/telecoms write Internet policy

by Bob Williams, Hear Us Now/consumers Union

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell recently wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in the Washington Post titled “Who Should Solve This Internet Crisis?”

In the op-ed, McDowell rushes to the defense of Comcast Corp. and its highly controversial – and likely illegal – throttling of person-to-person Internet traffic, specifically such traffic using a very popular program called Bit Torrent.

A majority of the FCC’s five members are reportedly prepared to take action against Comcast this Friday, when it expected to rule that the company’s throttling activities were and are, in fact, illegal. McDowell makes it clear in his op-ed that he does not agree with that majority.

After parroting the talking points that Comcast and its lobbyists have been spreading around official Washington since the company was busted by the Associated Press for its Internet throttling activities last year, McDowell argues that the FCC needs to defer to big Internet service providers when it comes to the vital information pipeline.

We don’t think anyone should be allowed to control access to the Internet, be it the FCC or a handful of huge corporations. But when a giant corporation such as Comcast clearly demonstrates it is willing to throttle certain types of legal traffic on the Internet the government has a responsibility to come down hard and show such anti-consumer shenanigans will not be tolerated.

Allowing the fox to guard the hen house has almost always been a bad idea. But it is inexcusable when a government official such as McDowell – an official who is charged with looking out for the public – rushes to the defense of a fox who has just been caught with a mouth full of feathers.

While we’re on the subject of the Comcast’s Internet throttling activities, the Wall Street Journal rushed to the company’s defense with an editorial earlier this week that, like McDowell’s op-ed, read like it was drafted by the cable giant’s lobbying office.

You can read it for yourself by clicking here.

We aren’t going to go through a point-by-point deconstruction and debunking of the WSJ editorial here. Instead, we will point you to a pair of very solid blogs that do just that. One is by Craig Aaron of Free Press and the other is by Jason Lee Miller at WebProNews.

article originally published at http://www.consumersunion.org/blogs/hun/2008/07/now_hear_this_newsletter_july_2.....

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey