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WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  FCC chairman talks tough on network neutrality

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Offline DaBees-Knees

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FCC chairman talks tough on network neutrality
« on: August 26, 2009, 07:31:43 pm »

Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski told a Washington, DC newspaper on Tuesday that he's going to defend consumers on the 'Net, come what may. "One thing I would say so that there is no confusion out there is that this FCC will support net neutrality and will enforce any violation of net neutrality principles," Genachowski pledged in an interview with The Hill.

And that would include keeping the Internet "free of increased user fees based on heavy Web traffic and slow downloads," in the words of the two reporters with whom he spoke.

But however Genachowski interprets the policy, two large land masses are heading towards the Commission stance on this matter. The first is the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009, introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps John Markey (D-MA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) in late July. The bill would prohibit Internet service providers from doing anything that would "block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade the ability of any person to use an Internet access service to access, use, send, post, receive, or offer any lawful content, application, or service through the Internet."

This is the third time that Markey has tried to get something like this through Congress, submitting the concept in bill or amendment form in 2007 and 2008. The law would also require the FCC to set up rules to enforce these provisions, put together a complaint system by which consumers could alert the Commission to problems, and run eight public broadband summits across the United States within a year of the bill's passage.

We'll let you know
The Markey/Eshoo proposed law moves along lines similar to those recommended by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, whose has called for an enforcement mechanism for the FCC's four-part Internet Policy Statement, a "fifth principle," if you will. The Hill's reporters asked Genachowski what he thought of Markey's bill, and got a pretty noncommittal response. "The FCC's job for legislation like that is to be a resource," he replied, "to make sure they have the facts and the data that they need." Queried whether he thought that the FCC presently had the "tools" to enforce net neutrality, the Chair said that "if we don't, we will say so."

Apropos of that, the second iceberg moving in the FCC's general direction in this regard is Comcast. The cable ISP is quite outspoken in its opinion that the agency, in fact, doesn't have those tools, legally speaking. In fact, as we've reported, Comcast is suing the FCC in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing that the Commission all but enforced imaginary laws and rules when it sanctioned the company last summer for throttling peer-to-peer applications like BitTorrent. The agency voted three to two to require Comcast to abandon its practices and come up with a new network management system by the end of the year.

"For the FCC to conclude that an entity has acted in violation of federal law and to take enforcement action for such a violation, there must have been 'law' to violate," Comcast's Opening Brief to the court contends. "Here, no such law existed." Expect a host of consumer groups to file briefs challenging this stance in late September and October.

The FCC will answer this charge as well, and its brief will more clearly reveal the nature of the legal tools the agency thinks it has at its disposal.

Lots of talk, but sadly little action.  8)

WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  FCC chairman talks tough on network neutrality

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