President Barack Obama's push to have the Internet regulated like a utility could put him on a crash course with the Federal Communications Commission, which has indicated it intends to take a more nuanced approach when using its authority to determine new guidelines.
According to The Washington Post
, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told officials from top Internet companies that his proposed net neutrality rules will likely be different
from what Obama outlined in his speech Monday.
The agency has made it clear that it will have a difficult time determining how to regulate the Internet like a utility without ultimately enforcing aggressive oversight as seen in industries such as electricity or water, The New York Times said
"What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn't affect your business," Wheeler said at the meeting with Internet providers after Obama's speech, the Post reported. "What I've got to figure out is how to split the baby."
Wheeler's approach could put him on a crash course with the White House and Democrats who have advocated for the agency to regulate the Internet under the same framework as traditional phone companies.
Such a framework would give the government more power to police cable providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable but stops short of getting involved in pricing.
The GOP and cable companies have strongly opposed
the president's plans and have promised to sue if the matter is not resolved to their satisfaction.
"It's disappointing, but not surprising, that the Obama administration continues to disregard the people's will and push for more mandates
on our economy," House Speaker John Boehner said.
"Federal bureaucrats should not be in the business of regulating the Internet — not now, not ever."
Some say the FCC will have a very difficult job of pleasing anyone as it carves out a way forward for Internet regulation.
"I think at this point Chairman Wheeler is in a very tough position," Jeffrey Eisenach, director of the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Times. "If the FCC follows the president's recommendation, it will always reek of politics, and nobody will get it off of them."
The new rules are expected to be announced in the coming months.
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