Sunday, September 20, 2009

Genachowski Proposes Rules for Free and Open Internet

In a speech at The Brookings Institution, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed a set of actions he believes are necessary "to preserve the free and open Internet." Previously, the FCC 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. Genachowski is proposing two new principles:

  • The first would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management. Genachowski said this means that network operators cannot block or degrade lawful traffic over their networks, or pick winners by favoring some content or applications over others in the connection to subscribers' homes. Nor can they "disfavor an Internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by that broadband provider."

  • The second principle would ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement.

The FCC will begin a process of codifying all six open Internet principles at its upcoming meeting in October. Genachowski said this process should make clear that all six principles apply to all platforms that access the Internet.

"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."http://www.fcc.govIn February 2004, then FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell issued a challenge to high-speed Internet providers to adopt a set of four voluntary "Net Freedom" principles:

  • Freedom to Access Content. Consumers should have access to their choice of legal content.

  • Freedom to Use Applications. Consumers should be able to run applications of their choice.

  • Freedom to Attach Personal Devices. Consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes.

  • Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information. Consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans.

"I would emphasize that consumers also have a role in this challenge to preserve ‘Net Freedom,'" said Powell. "I encourage consumers to challenge their broadband providers to live up to these standards and to let the Commission know how the industry is doing."