Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski today proposed new Net Neutrality rules that would protect the open Internet on all wired and wireless networks. In a speech at the Brookings Institution, Genachowksi proposed rules that would prohibit discrimination of content or applications by Internet service providers and would ensure network management practices are transparent.
Genachowski intends to introduce a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at the FCC’s October meeting to codify these two principles, in addition to the four open Internet principles that now guide the FCC's oversight and enforcement of communications law. FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn have already indicated they support stronger Net Neutrality rules.
Here is a portion of the speech given by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski today at the Brookings Institue:
Notwithstanding its unparalleled record of success, today the free and open Internet faces emerging and substantial challenges. We’ve already seen some clear examples of deviations from the Internet’s historic openness. We have witnessed certain broadband providers unilaterally block access to VoIP applications (phone calls delivered over data networks) and implement technical measures that degrade the performance of peer-to-peer software distributing lawful content. We have even seen at least one service provider deny users access to political content. And as many members of the Internet community and key Congressional leaders have noted, there are compelling reasons to be concerned about the future of openness.
The rise of serious challenges to the free and open Internet puts us at a crossroads. We could see the Internet’s doors shut to entrepreneurs, the spirit of innovation stifled, a full and free flow of information compromised. Or we could take steps to preserve Internet openness, helping ensure a future of opportunity, innovation, and a vibrant marketplace of ideas.
In view of these challenges and opportunities, and because it is vital that the Internet continue to be an engine of innovation, economic growth, competition and democratic engagement, I believe the FCC must be a smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet.
In closing, we are here because 40 years ago, a bunch of researchers in a lab changed the way computers interact and, as a result, changed the world. We are here because those Internet pioneers had unique insights about the power of open networks to transform lives for the better, and they did something about it. Our work now is to preserve the brilliance of what they contributed to our country and the world. It’s to make sure that, in the 21st century, the garage, the basement, and the dorm room remain places where innovators can not only dream but bring their dreams to life. And no one should be neutral about that.
This is extremely positive news. The plans that are outlined by Genachowski in his speech make good sense and are a good step to smartly regulate the Internet so that it remains an open forum for free exchanges of ideas and information. Media consolidation has taken its tole on democratic participation of the ordinary citizen and the Internet has been a place where many have taken refuge. It is vitally important to protect the Internet so that it does not go down the same road as other media.
The gatekeepers of the Internet (the companies that control access to the Internet) are in a position that will provide them with opportunities to choose profit over public interest and we need to act now in order to stand firm on the side of the public interest.
The FCC is also trying to involve the public in this process. They have created a website: http://www.openinternet.gov/index.html in order to allow for people like you and me to weigh in on this issue. Everyone needs to keep the pressure on to make sure that the FCC follows through and stands on the side of democracy in the public interest.