Net neutrality is a principle that internet service providers and carriers should treat all data flowing across the Internet in the same way, without discrimination based on user or type of data. Recently, President-elect Trump named two advisors to his FCC team that could mean bad news for net neutrality.
The two advisors – Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison – both have a track record of anti-regulation. Eisenach is an anti-regulatory scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he has blasted the Obama administration for its stance on issues like net neutrality and investment in broadband.
In the past, he had testified before Congress on certain telecom issues and even wrote an article in the New York Times of his anti-net-neutrality views. Closing the opinion piece, he stated, “Declaring the Internet a public utility is not necessary, and it will surely prove to be unwise…”
Eisenach’s new role in Trump’s team is a turning point for him, as he has criticized Trump in the past, even tweeting in March that he wouldn’t “apologize for pulling out all stops to defeat Trump.” The tweet has since been deleted from his timeline.
Jamison, who is a professor at the University of Florida, is a former lobbyist for Sprint and has been a critic of Tom Wheeler’s FCC for some time now. In a piece for Tech Policy Daily, he claims the FCC has been plagued by “politicization, the decline of analytical work and lack of transparency.”
In a separate article for the American Enterprise Institute, he calls net neutrality a “contentious policy debate” and wants to protect entrepreneurship and vulnerable populations, such as the poor and the elderly. However, many people feel net neutrality will keep internet prices fair for everyone, without favoring the wealthy.
Do we really want to anoint our regional telecom monopolies as our gatekeepers of the Internet? Last year so many Americans on both sides of the aisle spoke out for net neutrality that President Obama and Tom Wheeler were forced to come out for it despite Wheeler’s deep ties to the cable and wireless industry. Now it seems likely that American consumers will have another uphill battle on their hands if they wish to keep net neutrality in place.
To build a false sense of credibility, it seems common for lobbying campaigns to include work from academics and researchers. Michael J. Copps, the former FCC commissioner, said “A report authored by an academic is going to have more credibility in the eyes of the regulator who is reading it…They are seeking to build credibility where none exists.”
In his campaign, Trump vowed to do what is best for Americans. Only time will tell which Americans he was referring too.
About the Author: Patty is the director of business development for LiquidVPN, an Internet service provider that supports Americans right to privacy and Internet equality.