New campaign calls out Obama for net neutrality campaign pledge

As the Federal Communications Commission considers allowing Internet “fast lanes,” the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is looking to hold President Obama accountable for the commitment he made to an online “level playing field” during his 2008 campaign.

The campaign, launched Thursday, comes two weeks before the FCC will vote on a proposal from Chairman Tom Wheeler to rewrite his agency’s net neutrality rules to allow Internet providers to charge websites for better access to users through “commercially reasonable” agreements.

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Critics have called Wheeler’s plan a “turnaround” from the original rules, which kept Internet providers from blocking or slowing access to certain websites before they were struck down by a federal court earlier this year.

While some worry that the new “fast lanes” will encourage Internet providers to slow traffic to websites not willing to pay for boosted access, Wheeler has pledged that the FCC would ensure these “fast lane” agreements do not harm consumers or online competition.

The agency has also said that Wheeler’s plan would set a floor for access to ensure that Internet providers cannot slow traffic to a website to that point that users cannot access it.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, NoSlowLane.com, criticizes Wheeler’s plan and contrasts it with a pledge Obama made during his 2008 campaign.

The campaign’s site hosts a video from a 2007 campaign event where Obama described himself as “a strong supporter of net neutrality.”

Internet providers should not “charge different rates to different websites,” because that “destroys one of the best things about the Internet, which is there’s this incredible equality there” he said.

Companies like Google and Facebook “might not have been started if you had not had a level playing field for whoever’s got the best idea, and I want to maintain that basic principle in how the Internet functions,” he said.

As president, he said he would “make sure that that’s the principle that my FCC commissioners are applying as we move forward.”

Joe Niederberger, who posed the net neutrality question to Obama in 2007 and is now behind NoSlowLane.com, criticized the Obama administration for the current plan to allow Internet “fast lanes.”

“The new FCC chair should carry out the president’s promise and support net neutrality,” he said in a video on the site. 

“If he won’t do that, he should step down so that the president can appoint somebody who will stand up for Internet freedom.”

Niederberger asked viewers to sign a petition protesting Wheeler’s proposed net neutrality rewrite and contact their elected officials to warn them about the consequences of an uneven playing field online.