President Obama Speaks out In Support of Net Neutrality at US African Business Forum in DC

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

The President barely had time to truly celebrate his 53rd Birthday, which was Monday, August 4, when he had to step back in to official capacity at the recently held US Africa Business Forum which took place over the weekend in DC.

I received these two articles from a friend who had participated in the event.  President Obama, John Kerry, Vice President Biden and others  addressed African businessmen and women and entrepreneurs from all over the Continent, who gathered there to develop a comprehensive plan to consolidate and develop African based businesses, and business ties between Africa and the United States.  

Several issues confronted them - The Ebola Outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, which caused those presidents to stay home in hopes of stemming the crises.  The extension of the soon-to-expire AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act); the seeming invasion of China into Africa, and it's rivalry with the US for trade in Africa - not to mention education, infrastructure, and a host of issues that are beginning to loom large as more and more African leaders are tasked by their people to get them resolved sooner than later.
The big controversy behind a proposed FCC plan to allow the "heavy hitters" in the internet businesses to pay extra in order to be given preferential treatment and broader control over the internet has been roiling for quite some time.  There are those who have been critical of Obama's seeming lack of interest or concern about the possibility, and the fact that it would destroy opportunities across the board for all but a select few.
As usual, while everyone is jumping up and down, foaming at the mouth, pointing fingers of blame and suspicion at each other, President Obama has remained calm and considered all the factors before coming out with a definitive statement.  Anyone who would think that he would support the pay to play monopoly attempt has not been paying attention to this president for the past 5 years.  
The rest of us, who knows that he knows what's going on, and utilizes the best opportune moment to drive home a point and at the time secure the future of the internet (or whatever other challenge looming on the horizon), were just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  And here it is - two articles posted in reference to his address to the US African Business Conference, clearly stating his stand on the issue.  

Kudos to President Obama - he did it again.  Did you even doubt?

Stay Blessed &

The Huffington Post  

August 6, 2014

Bold Obama Stand Shakes Up Net Neutrality Debate

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President Barack Obama edged up to questioning the Federal Communications Commission's newly proposed net neutrality rules, a heavily criticized plan that would favor Internet content providers that can afford to pay more for faster delivery of their services.

Obama campaigned heavily on net neutrality during his 2008 election, but has been largely silent on the issue since the FCC voted to kill it with new Internet service rules that would create "fast lanes" for content providers that can afford to pay for them; those that can't will be hit with slower traffic.

Obama echoed one of progressives' major criticisms of the new rules at the U.S. Africa Business Forum in Washington on Wednesday, saying he is in favor of "an open and fair Internet."

"One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers.  That’s the big controversy here," he said.  "You have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more but then also charge more for more spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster or what have you.  And I personally -- the position of my administration, as well as I think a lot of companies here is you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to various users."

The president said an open Internet will allow for "the next Google or the next Facebook" to enter the arena, and succeed.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said that he, too, opposes paid prioritization -- but critics argue that his proposal will create just that.  The FCC is an independent entity within the executive branch and is free to ignore the weight of the president's opinion.  Google and Facebook have both come out against allowing providers to charge for priority services, a policy that would cut deeply into their margins.

"There’s another problem, though — there are other countries — and I think this is what you were alluding to — that feel comfortable with the idea of controlling and censoring Internet content in their home countries, and setting up rules and laws about what can or cannot be on the Internet.  And I think that that not only is going to inhibit entrepreneurs who are creating value on the Internet; I think it’s also going to inhibit the growth of the country generally, because closed societies that are not open to new ideas, eventually they fall behind," said Obama.

HuffPost previously compiled a primer on the brief history of the net neutrality debate:

In 1996, the Telecommunications Act updated the original 1934 Communications Act, New Deal legislation that prevented monopolies from dominating the means
of communication.  In 2002, under pressure from the cable and phone industry, the Bush administration's FCC classified broadband as an "information service" rather
than as a "telecommunications service."  It is, quite plainly, a telecommunications service, but the FCC deemed it otherwise for the sole purpose of avoiding the
legislative requirement that neutrality rules be written to protect the Internet from control by major corporations.

By 2005, the phone and cable companies had begun publicly discussing their plans to subvert net neutrality. "Why should [companies] be allowed to use my pipes?"
Southwestern Bell CEO Ed Whitacre told BusinessWeek.  "The Internet can't be free in that sense ... for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to
use these pipes for free is nuts!"

Earlier [in 2011], the Supreme Court ruled that the FCC could not regulate broadband as an "information service."  It had already ruled in 2005 that the FCC could
classify broadband as a "telecommunications service."  So, following the 2010 court ruling, the FCC announced plans to reclassify broadband as what it actually is.
Telecom lobbying went into high gear.  The GOP launched an attack arguing that Obama was attempting to take state control of the Internet, as if regulating broadband
the way that phone lines are regulated amounted to nationalization.

The telecom lobbying effort soon came to focus around an effort to pressure FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski not to reclassify broadband, but to leave it unregulated
until Congress acts.  The telecom position has the virtue of making perfect sense on the surface: Congressional action is of course superior to regulatory action, all things
being equal.  But all things are very far from equal.


August 5, 2014
Obama on net neutrality: My administration is against Internet fast lanes

Description: Description: http://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_908w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2014/08/05/National-Economy/Images/2014-08-05T202831Z_01_WAS979_RTRIDSP_3_AFRICA-SUMMIT.jpg
                                                                                                      (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington August 5, 2014.

The last time President Obama weighed in on net neutrality, it was to offer a vague, tepid response — claiming to support the idea without really defining how he understood it. It was a big contrast from what he'd previously said on the campaign trail in 2008.

On Tuesday, however, Obama offered a much more forceful defense of net neutrality, more clearly describing what activities he viewed as antithetical to the open Internet.  Addressing reporters at a summit for African leaders in Washington, Obama said making the Internet more accessible to some at the expense of others was against his administration's policy:

One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers.  That's the big controversy here. 
So you have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can
stream movies faster.  I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don’t want to start getting a differentiation
in how accessible the Internet is to different users.  You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed.

What Obama seems to be opposing is the idea of paid prioritization, or the notion that companies should be able to pay for better, smoother access to consumers.  The remarks also seem to contrast with the FCC's current proposal on net neutrality, which would tacitly allow for such commercial deals so long as the agency didn't consider them "commercially unreasonable."

On the other hand, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has on occasion come out explicitly against Internet fast lanes, saying that paid prioritization in his view would be commercially unreasonable.

While the friction isn't immediately obvious in the response, Obama may just have let slip some frustration.

 Interesting how the Washington post claimed that the president offered a "vague, tepid response" when he had already made clear where he stood in 2008.  It's more likely that he hates being asked the same question over and over again, as though he has somehow developed amnesia or changed his stance.  The meanstream media is notorious for these kinds of insipid characterizations.  It's interesting - Ron Reagan walked around with alzheimers and they called him the "great communicator."  President Obama is lucid, clear, articulate, steadfast, and these miscreants want to misinterpret the fact that he is not foaming at the mouth as somehow being tepid.  This is why you have to call it like you see it when you read it - don't just read it, and accept it - or just read it, disagree with it, but say nothing.

President Barack Obama is well aware, as well, of the FCC having been corrupted under Bush I, and further under Bush 2 - a fact that is now undermining the ownership and programming of many radio and television stations throughout the US, and the ownership becomes consolidated among a smaller number of owners.

Our job is to continue to support him, make our stand on net neutrality know, and make sure that the Congress does not undermine us while trying to line their pockets.

Now that you know,  what are you going to do about it? 
Below is a petition formulated by CREDO/Action - sign it, forward it, get involved!
Stay Blessed & 
Gloria Dulan-Wilson 

CREDO Action <act@credoaction.com> wrote:

CREDO action
Update: President Obama comes out for Net Neutrality
Huge! President Obama comes out against fast lanes and for equality on the Internet. To make sure his FCC commissioners get the message loud and clear, CREDO will send a free fax on your behalf directly to the FCC.
Take action now ►
Dear Gloria,
Net Neutrality Now!
This is big. And you helped make it happen.
We've been calling on President Obama to stand up and stop the FCC from killing the Internet. And this week he spoke up loud and clear for the first time since his FCC chairman announced a disastrous plan to end the Internet as we know it.
Here’s what President Obama said1:

"One of the issues around Net Neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers.
That's the big controversy here. So you have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster.
I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users.
You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed."
We know from experience that we need more than words from President Obama. But his public statement -- after CREDO members have poured in over 3,031,356 petitions signature, 137,210 official public comments and 26,336 phone calls -- means huge momentum for our campaign.
Now we must put President Obama’s FCC on notice. We need your help to make sure the FCC chair, along with the other five commissioners, all of whom were appointed by President Obama, get the president’s message loud and clear.
We're joining with our friends at MoveOn to flood the FCC with faxes containing the president's pronouncement that creating fast lanes and slow lanes on the Internet is against his personal position and the position of his administration.
Click here and we'll send a free fax on your behalf to the FCC with President Obama’s remarks supporting Net Neutrality.
This week, after months of silence, the president finally delivered a strong message in support of Net Neutrality. This would not have happened without your pressure. But our job isn't done.
Just because President Obama has made a speech, doesn't mean his administration is going to take action. That’s why we need to ramp up the pressure and make it clear to the FCC that we will accept nothing less than full abandonment of Chairman Wheeler’s plan to institute fast and slow lanes on the Internet. The commissioners must instead reclassify broadband as a telecom under Title II so that the Internet can be regulated as a public utility with no discrimination allowed.
Click here to have us fax a free copy of President Obama's statement on your behalf to the FCC.
Becky Bond, Political Director CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Take action now ►


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