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FCC to Delay Net Neutrality Vote Until 2015; Potential Split With President Emerges

Tom Wheeler
Photo Credit Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Sipa USA/AP Images

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler participates in a panel discussion in this file photo in Washington, D.C. on February 6, 2014.

On the heels of President Barack Obama's comments on net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission has confirmed it will hold off on voting on a long-promised proposal until 2015. FCC press secretary Kim Hart told The Daily Dot via email that "there will be no vote on open internet rules" at the December meeting, as earlier promised. "That would mean rules would now be finalised in 2015."

Obama issued a statement on Monday calling for the FCC to implement rules supporting net neutrality, the principle that all Internet service providers should treat all data equally. "To put these protections in place, I'm asking the FCC to reclassifying internet service under Title II of a law known as the Telecommunications Act," he said. Put plainly, he made the case that the Internet should be reclassified as a public utility, like water or electricity.

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Surprising no one, Republicans have come out against Obama's plan, which Senate GOP leaders label as "last century's rules." Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called net neutrality "Obamacare for the Internet," and was roundly mocked for it.

The delay in voting is potentially a sign of friction between the FCC and the White House regarding the rules. The commission's chairman, Tom Wheeler, an Obama appointee, is said to be considering a split from the president, according to a new report. Citing four unnamed sources, the Washington Post writes that Wheeler was meeting with officials from Google, Yahoo and other Web companies on Monday when he voiced concerns about Obama's just-delivered speech. "What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn't affect your business," Wheeler reportedly said. "What I've got to figure out is how to split the baby."

The debate over net neutrality generated a record 3.7 million public comments during the FCC's "Open Internet" proceedings, which followed a court decision involving Verizon that resulted in the removal of much of the commission's regulatory authority over broadband ISPs.

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