FCC Outlines Plan for “Net Neutrality”

Proposes 6 principles for a for preserving a free and open Internet.

Today in a speech at at The Brookings Institution, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined the steps he believes the Commission must take to preserve a free and open Internet for all.

“The Internet is an extraordinary platform for innovation, job creation, investment, and opportunity. It has unleashed the potential of entrepreneurs and enabled the launch and growth of small businesses across America,” said Chairman Genachowski. “It is vital that we safeguard the free and open Internet.”

The plan lives up to President Obama’s campaign promise to “protect the openness of the Internet” who also said that throttling of BitTorrent and other P2P applications would be illegal.

The Commission has already embraced four open Internet principles affirming that consumers must be able to access the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, and attach non-harmful devices to the network. These four principles guide the FCC’s existing case-by-case enforcement of communications law.

In today’s speech, Chairman Genachowski proposed the addition of two new principles. The first would prevent ISPs from discriminating against particular content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management. The second principle would ensure that ISPs are transparent about network management practices. He also proposed clarifying that all six principles apply to all platforms that access the Internet.

Chairman Genachowski will seek to begin the process of codifying these six principles through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) during a meeting of the FCC in October.

The NPRM will ask for input and feedback on the proposed rules and their application, such as how to determine whether network management practices are reasonable, what information ISPs should disclose about their network management practices and how the rules apply to differing platforms, including mobile Internet access services.

Wireless carriers have already voiced their opposition to the proposal.

“We believe that this kind of regulation is unnecessary in the competitive wireless space as it would prevent carriers from managing their networks — such as curtailing viruses and other harmful content — to the benefit of their consumers,” said Chris Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA, the wireless industry’s trade group.

I’m surer it has nothing to do with keeping their customers locked into a fixed platform with usage, content, and applications all dictated according to what serves their bottom line best.

Either way, it’s nice to see the FCC living up to the promises Obama made during the campaign. Maybe ensuring a free and open Internet will settle down the “Teabaggers” and “Truthers” for a little while.

Stay tuned.

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The FCC has launched OpenInternet.gov to give people a chance to weigh in, learn more, and get involved.