The FCC pushes for net neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose rules that would prevent Web and wireless carriers from blocking Internet applications, a concept known as net neutrality.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed codifying the Commission’s existing four open Internet principles, along with the two additional principles, through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at an upcoming October meeting of the FCC.

“The Internet… has unleashed the potential of entrepreneurs and enabled the launch and growth of small businesses across America,” Genachowski said in a statement.  “It is vital that we safeguard the free and open Internet.”

Net neutrality is generally supported by e-commerce companies, who look for a more open Internet without rules imposed by the carriers.

“As a former small business owner, I am keenly aware of how an open and transparent Internet can serve as an equalizing force for new entrants to the marketplace,” said Mignon L. Clyburn, FCC commissioner, in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Chairman and my fellow Commissioners to move expeditiously on this issue of great importance to the country.”

To date, the commission has supported four open Internet principles centered on the idea that consumers must be able to access legal Internet content, applications and services of their choice and attach non-harmful devices to the network. These four principles are the current guide which the FCC uses as it looks at the issue on a case-by-case basis.

Genachowski proposed two new principles on September 21. The first would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management. The second principle would ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement. The chairman also proposed clarifying that all six principles apply to all platforms that access the Internet.

As the rules are being proposed, the NPRM will ask for input and feedback on the proposed rules and their applications from the industry. The carriers including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have not always been in favor of net neutrality. Last year, and FCC ruling forced Comcast to stop using peer-to-peer traffic management practices that target individual protocols for slowing or blocking. Still they are open to working with Genchowski.
“Comcast applauds Chairman Genachowski’s goal of ensuring that the Internet remains open as it is today, and we welcome the dialogue suggested by his comments,” said Sena Fitzmaurice, executive director, corporate communications and government affairs for Comcast, in a statement. “The Chairman has made it clear that Commission decisions must be based on hard facts and data, and we are committed to work with the Chairman and the other Commissioners in this proceeding.  We also appreciate that the Chairman recognized that networks need to be managed and that consumer disclosure of those techniques is important.”

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