Jesse Jackson at Odds with Obama on Net Neutrality and Openness of the Internet

The Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses the Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Tex., in April. (EPA/Ashley Landis)
The Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses the Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Tex., in April. (EPA/Ashley Landis)

You don’t often find a two-time presidential candidate and civil rights leader wading into the sticky business of Internet policy. But last week, the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited an obscure federal office building in southwest Washington to discuss the future of the Internet. Meeting with Tom Wheeler — the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission — Jackson urged the FCC to act on net neutrality, the idea that Internet providers should not be permitted to speed up or slow down certain kinds of Web traffic over others, especially in exchange for money.

What Jackson asked for, though, probably won’t sit well with some of net neutrality’s most outspoken proponents, including President Obama.

Jackson asked Wheeler to draw up rules for broadband companies that would be far less aggressive than an alternative proposal, recently endorsed by Obama, that would see the FCC regulating Internet providers under the agency’s most powerful authority, known as Title II of the Communications Act. Whereas Obama would prefer the FCC to bring its full Title II authority to bear on ISPs such as Time Warner Cable and Verizon, Jackson and some minority groups called Thursday for rules based on a different part of the act known as Section 706. (More on that in a bit.)

Jackson “was unequivocal in voicing his opposition to Title II because of its effects on investment in broadband and because of the ultimate impact on minority communities and job creation,” said Berin Szoka, another participant in the meeting with Wheeler who has also argued for Section 706.

Civil rights and diversity organizations are largely united in their support for Section 706, Jackson said in an interview Monday. He added that no matter which legal approach the FCC chooses, the agency’s net neutrality rules should not end up marginalizing minorities and the poor.

“We got a lot of poor folks who don’t have broadband,” said Jackson. “If you create something where, for the poor, the lane is slower and the cost is more, you can’t survive.”

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SOURCE: Brian Fung 
The Washington Post

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