The FCC’s announcement of new net neutrality regulation is getting a big thumbs down from Al Franken, because it trades fairly decent wired net neutrality for a bunch of loopholes for wireless providers. Franken’s right that there’s a real possibility that Verizon will block some applications in order to make more money, and in general it’s sad to see that the wireless industry will continue to be a giant consumer fucking machine. But I also think that the new net neutrality rules are a product of some fairly shrewd maneuvering by FCC Chair Jules Genachowski.
The real danger with net neutrality is that the telecom industry would be united in their opposition to the new rules, crank up their lobbying machinery, and persuade Republicans and corporocratic Democrats to enact legislation to clamp down on the FCC. During the eternity that he took to push out new rules, Genachowski dodged that bullet by selling a compromise that let the big dual carriers, like Verizon and AT&T, get enough sugar in their wireless bowl to allow them to swallow the bitter pill of wired neutrality. The Comcast and Time Warners of the world, who are also getting into the wireless game, have decided to tolerate a fairly decent wired net neutrality rule because they can make a buck by exacting a toll on Netflix and other big net users instead of blocking them outright.
Despite all the Republican whining, this compromise is, as usual, pretty sweet for corporations, and their pro-forma bitching is merely an effort to set the stage for repeal of the new rules if Republicans win the presidency. As for the rest of us, it’s perfectly reasonable to be “outraged”, as Franken is. Or you can take the same view of net neutrality as most of us have adopted about HCR: it’s the best that the Obama administration could do, given a political landscape where corporations completely control Republicans, and where it takes superhuman efforts to get most Democrats to vote against corporate interests. I’m choosing to hate the game on this one, because at least we’re getting a vestige of wired net neutrality that would be inconceivable under a Republican administration.