Charles Benton has been gone less than a week, but I miss him already. I miss him as friend, as a thoroughly delightful person, and—apropos to this testimonial—a dauntless and effective champion of the public interest. I could not have admired this good man more. Charming and gentle, yes, but tenacious and indefatigable too, he left this world much better than he found it.
Chairman Tom Wheeler said it best at last week’s historic FCC meeting: “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.” Amen.
We start off the new year with the good news that the Federal Communications will likely vote on net neutrality at its late February meeting. So we might—just might—be on the cusp of a decision to reverse the disastrous misclassification of broadband that the FCC made in 2002 for cable modem and a couple of years later for the rest of telecommunications.
So 2014 will pass into history without the Federal Communications Commission stepping up to the plate to ensure an Open Internet. Think of the good history the Commission could have made for itself. Instead we got more delay and more uncertainty about whether Title II net neutrality will ever see the light of day.
The opponents of a truly Open Internet are spending millions of dollars to transform the debate over what should be a no-brainer regulatory finding into something analogous to dropping a hydrogen bomb. The big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would have us believe that Title II net neutrality is regulatory strangulation, government-by-dictatorship, wholesale infringement of their First Amendment rights, and on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.