FCC To Vote On Net Neutrality Regulation December 21st
Three Comments For It; Two Against
December 1, 2010 at 11:38 AM (PT)
Net neutrality is back on the front burner at the FCC, with the announcement that the Commissioners will vote at their DECEMBER 21st open meeting on a proposal to ban ISPs from blocking lawful apps and services, limited restriction on network management, "transparency" so customers know what management of the network is in place, and additional rules for wireless broadband, including the ban on blocking apps and transparency. The move is part of Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI's "middle ground" approach, regulating Internet companies partly under the common-carrier Title II laws and the lesser Title I regulations.
In remarks released TODAY (12/1), GENACHOWSKI said that his proposal "would advance a set of core goals: It would ensure that the Internet remains a powerful platform for innovation and job creation; it would empower consumers and entrepreneurs; it would protect free expression; it would increase certainty in the marketplace, and spur investment both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks."
GENACHOWSKI said that the transparency obligation would protect consumers' "right to know" how networks are being managed, adding, "Sunshine can help solve problems early, reducing the number of issues that even come to the FCC." He added, "consumers and innovators have a right to send and receive lawful Internet traffic -- to go where they want and say what they want online, and to use the devices of their choice. Thus, the proposed framework would prohibit the blocking of lawful content, apps, services, and the connection of non-harmful devices to the network." And he said that the public has "a right to a level playing field," which he said led to the bar on "unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic," although he added that "broadband providers must have the ability and investment incentives to build out and run their networks ... (they) need meaningful flexibility to manage their networks."
Commissioner ROBERT MCDOWELL signaled his opposition to the plan, issuing a statement saying, "I strongly oppose this ill-advised maneuver. Such rules would upend three decades of bipartisan and international consensus that the Internet is best able to thrive in the absence of regulation. Pushing a small group of hand-picked industry players toward a 'choice' between a bad option (Title I Internet regulation) or a worse option (regulating the Internet like a monopoly phone company under Title II) smacks more of coercion than consensus or compromise."
Commissioner MEREDITH ATTWELL BAKER added, "This is a mistake. We do not have authority to act. The new majority of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has asked the Commission not to circulate this Order, and a clear majority of all Members of Congress has expressed concern with our Internet policies. Whether the Internet should be regulated is a decision best left to the directly elected representatives of the American people ... Just because Title II is even more destructive to investment does not transform Title I into a middle ground. The American people seek sensible consensus-driven solutions, not more big government intervention."
Commissioner MICHAEL COPPS said, "It's no secret that I am looking for the strongest protections we can get to preserve an Open Internet, built on the most secure legal foundation so we don't find ourselves in court every other month. Over the next three weeks, I will work tirelessly with stake-holders -- including, of course, consumers and Internet innovators -- seeking to ensure real network neutrality that protects the online freedom of all Americans. Today is the beginning of an important discussion, and not the end. We have an historic opportunity to make sure this dynamic Internet technology reaches its full potential to create opportunity for every citizen. I hope we will make the most of it. At issue is who will control access to the online experiences of consumers -- consumers themselves or Big Phone and Big Cable gatekeepers."
And Commissioner MIGNON L. CLYBURN said, "The Internet is a crucial American marketplace, and I believe that it is appropriate for the FCC to safeguard it pursuant to our duties and obligations. As noted by the Chairman in his remarks this morning, clear rules of road are absolutely necessary for consumers to be protected and for broadband providers and other users of the Internet to be able to further innovate and invest."