White House/Amanda Lucidon

According to a report in The Washington Post, FCC ChairmanTom Wheeler, a former cable and telecom lobbyist, is prepared to embarrass the president and annoy millions of Americans all at the same time.

The issue is net neutrality, which is shorthand for keeping the Internet unbiased, the way it more or less has been from its inception. Greedy cable and telecom companies would prefer to treat the Internet as a slush fund, a practice they call “innovation.” Greedy Internet giants, like Google and Netflix, have sided with the common consumer, because their interests align on this one.

Enter President Obama, who recently came out in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet as a Title II utility. Basically, he’s asking the FCC to make it official and regulate Internet providers the way most people think they already do — as the owners of dumb pipes that deliver content to our homes. Believe it or not, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are currently treated as information service vendors, because, among other things — and this is the saddest of fig leaves — they give you an email address.

Activists, including the cohort behind Save the Internet, have been calling for exactly the same thing as President Obama.

Oh but there’s more. Although the president appointed Wheeler to his current position, both men agree that Wheeler’s is an independent agency with the power to make independent decisions. In fact, in a moment of megalomania, Wheeler reportedly told a group of high-powered executives he is the FCC.

Here’s the scene, as described by The Washington Post:

And, as Wheeler reminded participants at his meeting with Web companies Monday, the FCC does not answer to the Obama administration.

“I am an independent agency,” Wheeler told them repeatedly, according to several officials.

Wheeler was described by the Post, which relied on anonymous sources, as “visibly frustrated.” He is said to be going ahead with his own proposal, which would offer companies such as Comcast and Verizon the ability to charge a premium for access to Internet “fast lanes.” No matter how he describes it, and he has tried many times to put the shine on this pig, there’s nothing neutral sounding about “fast lane.”

So, the moral of the story: That’s what you get for trusting a lobbyist.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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