Federal Communications Commission is Increasing Government Oversight Over The Internet – NYC

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

Verizon Communications wasn’t happy with Thursday’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission to increase government oversight over the Internet, but most Americans would have a hard time deciphering what the communications company had to say.

That’s because Verizon issued its news release in Morse code, making the point that it believed the FCC was imposing “1930s rules on the Internet.”

Manhattan-based Verizon (NYSE: VZ) did provide a link to a translated statement, but even that looked like it came off of an old mimeo machine.

In a nod to social media, Verizon noted that the FCC’s 3-2 ruling came on “Throwback Thursday,” saying that the commission is imposing rules on broadband Internet services “that were written in the era of the steam locomotive and the telegraph.”

Michael Glover, Verizon senior vice president for public policy and government affairs, argued in the news release that the FCC’s move was “wholly unnecessary.”

” Over the past two decades a bipartisan, light-touch policy approach unleashed unprecedented investment and enabled the broadband Internet age consumers now enjoy,” he said.

But there were many other NYC business and government leaders who liked the FCC’s move, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who “applauded” the commission for enacting “bold new rules that safeguard a free and open Internet for all.”

Union Square Ventures founder Fred Wilson also praised the expected ruling, saying that it’s “a big deal.”

” We believe that last mile Internet Access is a natural monopoly/duopoly in most geographies and needs to be regulated as such,” Wilson wrote on his blog Thursday.

Etsy was one of several New York startups that fought for the new “net neutrality” rules, along with Meetup, Kickstarter, Tumblr and Vimeo.

And Etsy was one that celebrated Thursday, with a blog post from Althea Erickson discussed its year-long effort to lobby for the new rules.

“We explained that the proposed rules would hurt the more than 1 million sellers (mostly women) who depend on Etsy to pay their bills and feed their families,” wrote Erickson, who leads Etsy’s advocacy and policy work. “We urged policymakers to protect the democratic nature of the Internet, which allows Etsy sellers to succeed based on the quality of their products, not the depths of their pockets.”

AT&T sided with Verizon in this fight, and Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s executive vice president for External and Legislative Affairs, criticized Thursday’s vote as a case of politics winning over compromise (the 3-2 vote was along party lines).

” Does anyone really think Washington needs yet another partisan fight? Cicconi wrote in a blog post. “Particularly a fight around the Internet, one of the greatest engines of economic growth, investment, and innovation in history?”

Separately, the FCC made another ruling today praised by the de Blasio administration. The agency ruled against state limits on city-run broadband. That was closely watched by the city as it prepares to build a large network of public, 1-gigabit WiFi hubs on top of the old payphone infrastructure.

Maya Wiley, chief legal counsel to de Blasio, said, “It means NYC doesn’t have to worry that it loses the power to innovate muni broadband!”

Ben Fischer contributed to this report.

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