After The Verizon/Google Announcement, Where's The FCC?

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jacquelyn Martin/AP

In a conference call, yesterday, Google and Verizon CEOs Eric Schmidt and Ivan Seidenberg reaffirmed their commitment to keeping the Internet unfettered and speedy for all by not giving higher-paying web traffic priority over others. Despite this high speech, they've outlined a proposal that some argue would potentially allow them to worm their way around net neutrality.

The media response to the plan has ranged from skeptical to hostile—and a lot of the hostility has been focused not on the corporations, but on the FCC. It was in on talks, until the The New York Times made them public.

Salon.com's Dan Gillmor pointed out, Americans cannot trust Verizon or Google to act in the public interest. They will act in their best interests, as corporations are expected to. What's been surprising to commentators, is that — save for a one paragraph statement — the FCC has not been a stronger voice in this conversation.

A coalition of progressive organizations, including Free Press and MoveOn.Org issued a statement urging the FCC not to sell out the Internet. And Craig Aaron at The Huffington Post wrote that the pact “sets the stage for the corporate takeover of the Internet.”

He called on the FCC, Congress, and President Obama to safeguard net neutrality.

PC World's Tony Bradley was a little harsher. He wrote that the FCC's including corporations in talks to shape Internet policy was akin to inviting Al Qaeda to help shape national defense policy. He went on:

The FCC has a job to do. That job is to regulate and oversee communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. It doesn't need additional authority from Congress to execute those duties, and it doesn't need the permission or cooperation of the parties it is tasked with overseeing.

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