Net neutrality: FCC chairman Wheeler promises impartiality

Federal Communications Commission [FCC] chairman Tom Wheeler won’t bow to pressure from US president Barack Obama on net neutrality and told a gathering of web firms that his agency will remain independent on the issue.

Read more: Obama finally enters net neutrality debate: Will he do more harm than good?

Wheeler spoke to several behemoths of the web, including Google and Yahoo, on Monday telling them the agency is independent and pushing for a vision that addresses the concerns of Internet providers, web firms and Obama.

“What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business. What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby,” Wheeler told the meeting, according to the Washington Post.

Wheeler repeatedly told them that the FCC is “an independent agency” and as such the group doesn’t answer to the Obama administration, have to serve the president’s interests or agree with any side of the debate.

Obama entered the net neutrality debate for the first time this week by voicing support for a free and open Internet. He went even further than that and requested broadband be reclassified under Title II of the Telecommunications Act to give the FCC greater regulatory powers. It’s something that is bad news for those pining for a two-tier Internet, such as cable providers and Obama went even further by calling for no blocking of legal content, no throttling and a greater level of transparency among ISPs.

Wheeler’s FCC opened up a debate on net neutrality earlier this year and was inundated by over three million responses from consumers, businesses and other organisations worried over what the changes would mean for the Internet.

Read more: FCC net neutrality debate receives over three million responses

That debate was started after a court ruled in January that ISPs could charge what they wanted for services that use a high level of bandwidth, such as Netflix. The FCC is still reviewing the findings and the latest news shows the pressure Wheeler and the FCC are under the get it right when changes are eventually implemented.

Image Credit: Flickr (Stephen Melkisethian)