Published on
by
The Washington Post

Netroots Groups Flood White House, FCC With Calls to Reclassify Broadband

by
Cecilia Kang

Members of grass-roots Internet groups MoveOn and Free Press have flooded the White House and Federal Communications Commission with calls urging the FCC to assert authority over Internet access providers so that it can carry out a net neutrality rule. (AFP/File/Mychele Daniau)

Members of grass-roots Internet groups MoveOn and Free
Press
have flooded the White House and Federal
Communications Commission
with calls urging the FCC to assert
authority over Internet access providers so that it can carry out a net
neutrality rule.

The "netroots" groups say that without reclassifying broadband, the
FCC can't carry out its planned rule to force carriers to treat
applications equally on their networks. That policy proposal by FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski was set back by a court
decision last month that showed weakness in the agency's ability to
regulate the companies that provide access to the Web such as Comcast,
Verizon and AT&T.

In a story
by The Post
on Monday, it appeared over the weekend that
Genachowski was leaning toward staying with a regulatory framework that
some legal analysts say would make it difficult for the FCC to carry out
broadband policies, including its controversial net neutrality
proposal. He had not made a final decision, sources said.

The grass-roots efforts come amid a stark quiet from companies that
have been supportive of net neutrality rules. Companies on both sides of
the debate have told me they are waiting for a final decision by the
agency before commenting publicly.

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A source at the FCC said the agency has been bombarded with calls.
Free Press, a media reform public interest group, called for its 500,000
members to call and e-mail Genachowski to tell him to "protect the
Internet" by reclassifying broadband. Some 200,000 of its supporters
signed an online petition on the topic. Twitter was flooded with tweets
to @fcc and @whitehouse calling for
reclassification.

MoveOn said in an e-mail to its 5 million members to call the White
House, urging the administration to tell the FCC to reclassify. The FCC
is an independent agency and wouldn't be obligated to carry out
instructions from the White House.

"There is a an urgent threat to the reality of a free and open
Internet - and President Obama needs to hear from you right away," the
group wrote to its members in an e-mail.

"This decision is flying under the radar right now - if we want to
stop it, we need to generate a serious outcry," the group wrote.

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