portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements united states

alternative media

After a Five Year Battle, FCC Expands Net Neutrality Rules

Yesterday the FCC announced new, expanded rules enforcing net neutrality, and they've set aside the next 60 days for public debate. Get ready to hear all sorts of creative end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it arguments from opponents like AT&T. We've checked out the official document (pdf) and below we summarize the changes that are open to public discussion for the next two months.
(Repost from the Comsumerist.com Blog)

1. Here are the current four rules announced by the FCC in 2005:

* Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
* Consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
* Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
* Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

2. Here are the two new "principals" they announced yesterday:

* Nondiscrimination This sort of overlaps with the existing rules, in that it forbids providers from "favoring or disfavoring lawful content, applications, or services accessed by their subscribers, subject to reasonable network management."
* Transparency
Providers must disclose to customers their network management policies before the customer signs up for service. Providers must also disclose their network management policies to content, application, and service providers, as well as to the FCC.

The FCC adds, "All of the principles would be subject to reasonable network management and the needs of law enforcement, public safety, and homeland and national security."

3. Finally, the FCC extended the scope of these rules and principals to cover mobile wireless broadband. Yay!

4. Here's one other thing that the FCC wants feedback on:
"Managed" or "specialized" services, such as VOIP or subscription video services, may fall into a special category since they "may differ from broadband Internet access services in ways that recommend a different policy approach, and it may be inappropriate to apply the rules proposed here." The FCC is looking for input on how to approach this special class of services.

Providers have and will continue to argue that the future of the Internet depends on whether or not they're allowed to shape traffic and practice general network management. What they'll probably forget to mention is that the FCC agrees with them, but doesn't agree that this means they should get a free pass to control access.

The FCC notes in yesterday's draft that the rapid growth of Internet traffic demands creative approaches to network management, but that this also provides plenty of opportunities for companies to screw over their customers to make more money. The FCC's goal, then, is to give companies room to practice network management as they deem best, but to prevent them from using that as an excuse to force specific products or web content on consumers, or to interfere with competition from other companies under the guise of network management.

And don't take it too seriously when an Internet provider warns that this will increase costs to the consumer. Every provider that's serious about making money fully intends to find ways to raise costs over time regardless; it's almost a certainty that should Net Neutrality go away tomorrow, prices wouldn't magically drop in the coming years.

How do you provide feedback?

Two ways:

1. You can leave formal comments through the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System. You'll need to know the proceeding number of the proposal, which is the same as the GN Docket Number: 09-191.

2. Or for a more "town hall" style form of participation (meaning we have no idea if participating here really matters), you can visit the OpenInternet.gov IdeaScale website, which they describe as "an online platform for brainstorming and rating solutions to policy challenges."

Commission Seeks Public Input on Draft Rules to Preserve the Free and Open Internet - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" (pdf)

homepage: homepage: http://consumerist.com/5388469/heres-what-the-new-fcc-net-neutrality-rules-mean

McCain introduces bill to block Net neutrality 24.Oct.2009 11:10



McCain introduces bill to block Net neutrality
Republican strategy is to paint Net neutrality as government 'control' of Internet

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced a bill in the Senate on Thursday that would effectively allow Internet service providers to slow down or block Internet content or applications of their choosing.

The move came the same day as the federal government decided to move forward on an official Net neutrality policy that would prevent ISPs from making those types of decisions.

The FCC's new rules would prevent ISPs, for example, from blocking or slowing bandwidth-hogging Web traffic such as streaming video or other applications that put a strain on their networks or from charging different rates to users.

McCain's bill, the Internet Freedom Act, would block the Federal Communications Commission from making Net neutrality the law of the land. The rule preventing ISPs from slowing down certain types of content would create "onerous federal regulation," McCain argued in a written statement.

According to a report at NetworkWorld, McCain "called the proposed Net neutrality rules a 'government takeover' of the Internet that will stifle innovation and depress an 'already anemic' job market in the US."

But supporters of Net neutrality argue that the rule is needed to ensure that Internet providers don't censor content, or slow down traffic to Web sites that are in competition with their business allies.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski argued that "reasonable and enforceable rules of the road" were needed "to preserve a free and open Internet."

"The Internet's openness has allowed entrepreneurs and innovators, small and large, to create countless applications and services without having to seek permission from anyone," he said.

But, the FCC chairman said, there have been "some significant situations where broadband providers have degraded the data streams of popular lawful services and blocked consumer access to lawful applications."

Two Republicans on the FCC also voted on Thursday to go ahead with the rule-making process, which will be open for public comment until January 14, but voiced misgivings about the plan.


As the NetworkWorld article notes, McCain was on the opposite side of the Net neutrality debate from President Barack Obama during last year's presidential campaign. During his White House campaign, President Barack Obama came out strongly in favor of Net neutrality, which is backed by companies such as Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, eBay and consumer advocacy groups, but opposed by telecommunications, wireless and cable companies.

Republicans appear to be shifting against Net neutrality and aligning themselves with the telecoms and cable companies.

This week, media watchdog Media Matters criticized conservative news host Glenn Beck for what it said was Beck's allegation that Net neutrality is a "Marxist plot," and that the point of Net neutrality is to "control content," a perspective that prompted MediaMatters and other observers to question whether Beck understands the principle of Net neutrality.

In his announcement today, McCain appeared to agree with the notion that Net neutrality represents regulation and control, rather than a lack thereof.

His bill "will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation," McCain said, as quoted by Phil Goldstein at Fierce Wireless. "It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment. Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy."

-- With Agence France-Presse