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White House "Speaks" on Google-Verizon Pact -- Supports Wireless Net Neutrality

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Time magazine reports that the White House has "kept quiet" on the Google-Verizon pact because the FCC is dealing with net neutrality, and the FCC is an independent agency.

This alone was good news: it means that the White House is denying rumors (reaching Harvard Professor Larry Lessig and others) that it is directing the FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, to slow-roll net neutrality. Interestingly, when I wrote that congressional pressure might be affecting the FCC's bizarre foot-dragging on net neutrality, congressional staffers were quick to email me to point fingers at the FCC for the slowness--after all, an independent agency. So the FCC, which signaled that the Google-Verizon pact was unacceptable, has the floor. The White House is saying it can follow through and take action, as urged by Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps.

This is also in line with an excellent post by Susan Crawford, who served as technology advisor on the National Economic Counsel to President Obama in the White House. She is calling on the FCC to do the "hard thing"--the right thing--in the face of carrier pressure.

But the White House didn't stop at that. It tipped its hand, like a teacher hinting at the answer to a stalling student. Of course, Obama supports net neutrality, he campaigned on it.

Still today, the White House voices unqualified support:

"The President supports an open Internet that drives innovation, investment, free speech and consumer choice," said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage, though she declined to say whether the Google-Verizon proposal met that standard. "We support the FCC's process to establish balanced, sound and enforceable rules in this area."

Off the record, a White House aide went farther, slamming the two key, gaping, loopholes in the pact: wireless services and the "private Internet" of so-called "managed services."

Another White House aide said that, while the White House did not want to interfere with the deliberations of the FCC, an independent agency, it was important that any final FCC rule address wireless and managed services, two of the issues raised by Google and Verizon.

Couldn't be clearer. White House silence doesn't mean consent with Google--it means the White House isn't pressuring the FCC. It means the ball is in the FCC's court. And it means the FCC should do what every net neutrality advocate in the nation is saying (some with more humor than others): the FCC should ignore the silly Google-Verizon pact to eliminate net neutrality through loopholes. It should ensure an open Internet for all. And quickly.

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