Monday, December 01, 2008

Now THIS Appointment, I Likes

Wee bit dated, but Obama's appointing prominent Net Neutrality advocates to his FCC review team.

The Obama-Biden transition team on Friday named two long-time net neutrality advocates to head up its Federal Communications Commission Review team.
Susan Crawford, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, and Kevin Werbach, a former FCC staffer, organizer of the annual tech conference Supernova, and a Wharton professor, will lead the Obama-Biden transition team's review of the FCC.

Both are highly-regarded outside-the-Beltway experts in telecom policy, and they've both been pretty harsh critics of the Bush administration's telecom policies in the past year.

Their jobs will be to review the agency and arm the president, vice president and prospective agency leader with all the information needed to make key decisions as they prepare to take over.

The choice of the duo strongly signals an entirely different approach to the incumbent-friendly telecom policymaking that's characterized most of the past eight-years at the FCC.

This March at a telecom policy conference in Hollywood, for example, Crawford bluntly told Ambassador Richard Russell, the White House' associate director on science and technology policy, that he lived in a fantasyland when he asserted that the United States' roll-out of broadband is going well.

"I think it's magical thinking to imagine that we're somehow doing fine here, and I just want to make sure that we recognize that even the [International Telecommunications Union] says that between 1999 and 2006 we skipped form third to 20th place in penetration," she noted acidly at the annual Tech Policy Summit, a gathering of top officials in the world of tech policy (of which was a participant and sponsor.)

"We're not doing at all well for reasons that mostly have to do with the fact that we failed to have a US industrial policy pushing forward high-speed internet access penetration, and there's been completely inadequate competition in this country for high speed internet access," she said.

And in a final introductory statement during her talk (that's likely to send shivers down the spines of telecom company executives) she said that she believes internet access is a "utility."

"This is like water, electricity, sewage systems: Something that each and all Americans need to succeed in the modern era. We're doing very badly, and we're in a dismal state," she said at the time.
Now that last comment really, really speaks to me. Internet access is absolutely needed to succeed, and is as much a utility as anything.

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