Tim Wu on FCC's net neutrality disaster

Tim Wu is the law professor and activist who coined the term "net neutrality" -- the principle that ISPs should get you the data you request, as efficiently as they know how, without deliberately slowing down some sites unless they've paid bribes for "preferred carriage." The FCC had made a halfhearted and legally doomed rule to protect American net neutrality, refusing to use its full regulatory power for fear of offending the powerful telcoms corporations it is meant to regulate.

A recent court decision struck down the FCC's rule, confirming critics' fears about the weakness of the FCC's legal position. Now, in a Washington Post interview, Wu explains what a blunder the FCC made (he calls it "a FEMA-level fail") and sets out the next steps the Commission should take if it is to ameliorate the consequences of its timidity and deference to the telcos:

They blew it on the legal strategy. It's a big fail. It's like, FEMA-level fail. Every legal expert told the FCC they're going to lose this case, and they did. It reminds me of the Bush administration, where everyone said the problem in Iraq isn't going to be the invasion — it's going to be in the aftermath.

Think of it this way: The FCC is like a battleship, and it has these enormous guns. But it decided to use a water pistol for this particular issue. Or, put differently: The FCC is like a car with a massive engine, and they decided not to use the engine but rather the bicycle that was attached to the car.

What could the FCC have done differently?

The obvious alternative would have been to do what the FCC should have done and — in the future tense — now should do, which is to reclassify broadband under Title II authority.

‘A FEMA-level fail’: The law professor who coined ‘net neutrality’ lashes out at the FCC’s legal strategy [Brian Fung/Washington Post]

(via Interesting People)