Thursday, December 9, 2010

Public Interest Groups Criticize Genachowski's Proposal

More than 80 public interest groups published an open letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that criticizes his Internet government policy statement, which is headed to a vote later this month. Specifically, the groups argue that the proposed Order falls short in five areas:

1. Paid Prioritization: "Paid prioritization is the antithesis of openness. Any framework that does not prohibit such economic discrimination arrangements is not real Net Neutrality. Without a clear ban on such practices, ISPs will move forward with their oft-stated plans to exploit their dominant position and favor their own content and services and those of a few select paying partners through faster delivery, relegating everyone else to the proverbial dirt road."

2. Adequate Protections for Wireless: "Unfortunately, the draft Order apparently leaves wireless users vulnerable to application blocking and discrimination. The draft order reportedly would only prohibit outright blocking of websites and competing voice and video telephony applications, but would not restrict other blocking, degrading or
prioritization. This incomplete protection would destroy innovation in the mobile apps and content space, permanently enshrining Verizon and AT&T as the gatekeepers for all new uses of the wireless Web.... if bandwidth constraints are the supposed justification for disparate treatment, 4G wireless networks should receive greater Net Neutrality protections, as they should be far less capacity-constrained than some existing DSL

3. Loophole-Free Definitions: "The draft Order's definition of Broadband Internet Access Service could easily be exploited by ISPs seeking to evade or exempt themselves from the rules. The Commission should not adopt unnecessarily broad definitions that will erode the protections the rule seeks to provide. The FCC should adopt the definition of Broadband Internet Access Service suggested in the October 2009 NPRM."

4. Specialized Services Cannot Undermine the Open Internet: "While some highly sensitive and truly specialized services might not be best provided over the open Internet, there is no reason for the FCC to create a specialized services loophole that would undermine Net Neutrality. Unfortunately, the draft Order apparently opens the door to specialized services without any safeguards."

5. FCC Broadband Policy Must Be Based on Sound Legal Footing: "The FCC must restore its unquestionable authority to protect consumers, promote adoption and deployment, and serve the public interest in the broadband

The signers include Free Press, New America Foundation, Media Access Project, Reporters without Borders, Daily Kos, Common Cause, Entertainment Consumers Association, Nonprofit Technology Network,, Center for Media Justice, National Hispanic Media Coalition and Public Knowledge.http://http://www.mediaaccess.org

  • FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is moving forward with a new set of Internet traffic rules that will be brought to a commission vote on December 21. The proposal would resolve that statutory uncertainty that currently exists regarding Net Neutrality by granting the FCC new powers to enforce Internet traffic management rules. Genachowski said the framework would establish "basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, competition, and free expression." Three of the FCC commissioners are Democrats and two are Republicans, implying that the proposal should pass if the vote splits along partisan lines.