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Preserving a Free and Open Internet

December 1st, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

 After months of hard work we have reached an important milestone in the fight to protect a free and open Internet for all Americans. 

Today, the FCC proposed basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, job creation, competition, and free expression. If adopted later this month, these basic rules will mean several things for consumers, namely:

1. Americans have the freedom to access lawful content on the Internet, without discrimination. No one should be able to tell you what you can or can’t do on the Internet, as long as it’s lawful. Our rules will ensure that no central authority—either corporations or government—have the right to decide what you can access on the Internet. 

2. You have a right to basic information about your broadband service.  Our proposed framework will ensure that consumers have information they need to make informed choices about subscribing or using broadband networks. 

3. The Internet will remain a level playing field. The ability for consumers to speak their mind, engage in commerce and innovate without permission from a corporation has enabled the Internet’s unparalled success.  Our rules will protect against corporate gatekeepers prioritizing access to one person’s content over another’s.

The openness of the Internet has enabled unparalleled innovation and job growth, yet we continue to find examples of this freedom being attacked. We have found instances when broadband providers position themselves as gatekeepers to the Internet, and have prevented consumers from using applications of their choice without disclosing what they were doing.

We must take action to protect consumers against price hikes and closed access to the Internet—and our proposed framework is designed to do just that: to guard against these risks while recognizing the legitimate needs and interests of broadband providers.

I look forward to the very important work ahead as we strive for free and open communications for all Americans.


9 Responses to “Preserving a Free and Open Internet”

  1. David Spring says:

    (For some reason it seems impossible to post this. Attempt number 10.)
    This all looks pretty good except for the second line in point 1 where it is stated, ... as long as it's lawful. That can be interpreted to mean many things and leaves a very large gap in potential policy.
    Do you mean legally according to State Law, or Federal? Does it apply to viewing and downloading or downloading only?
    These are the details which determine if this will be a boon for freedom or an Orwellian nightmare.

  2. William Carleton says:

    Chairman Genachowski, well said and bravo! Three quick questions:

    (1) I have heard Bill Schrier, CTO of the City of Seattle, say, "With fiber, this whole debate on net neutrality can go away, because won’t have constraints on bandwidth." Would it make sense to backstop the policies you envision with initiatives to put free broadband infrastructure in place all over the country? Private companies could build whatever they wanted to on top of it, of course, but everyone could have a no-toll highway to route on, too?

    (2) Who determines whether content is "lawful?" I presume you would agree that Internet users, who are citizens of the US, are free from any federal or state law or regulation that would abridge the freedom of speech. Is "lawful" the right standard, given that in so many areas, the term may just beg the question? Maybe the standard should have to do with activity that is criminal and could pose imminent harm to others?

    (3) Totally agree with and applaud your position that corporations must not be gatekeepers of content on the Internet. Government should not be a gatekeeper, either, right?

    Thank you for your leadership today and good luck.

    William Carleton

  3. James says:

    what are the rules? what is the proposed framework?

    who will pay for it? are we going to have more taxes on our broadband/Internet access?

  4. Jason Rosenbaum says:

    You and I both know this is not protecting the free and open Internet -- please don't try to play it off like it is.

    You allow discrimination and paid prioritization, which wouldn't prevent Comcast from blocking Netflix unless they paid up, for example.

    There are almost no rules applied to wireless, so consumers on their phones are almost entirely unprotected.

    And the whole thing is on a shaky, Title I legal foundation, meaning it's going to be thrown out in court in short order.

    It's garbage, and Marvin Ammori explains: http://ammori.org/2010/12/01/fcc-chairman-proposes-garbage-calls-it-net-neutrality/

    We need better -- I hope the other Commissioners have the strength to do what you couldn't and actually protect the free and open Internet.

  5. Scott says:

    I'm disapointed and outraged at the FCC for caving on such a vital service, and the apparent lack of concern for American consumers that no protections are being put in place to avoid the abuse we're already recieving by the Cable companies that operate unhindered in their duopoly or monopoly markets.

    Your proposal does nothing to address the real issues and concerns individuals and companies have and are facing right now. The internet at this time is more important and necessary than the telephone ever was, yet it's given less thought and consumer market protections by your agency.

    If you need further evidence of this just take a look at the cable company stock prices as they skyrocket up pending your 'announcement', a sure sign of just how well recieved your protections will be as tolls, fees, and overcharging for internet access continues uninhibited by ISP's.

  6. The Dragon says:

    When there are rules and regulations applied to anything....freedom no longer exists. There is nothing free about Net Neutrality when you place regulations upon service providers, the costs they incur are always passed down to the user's, and for those of us who can barely afford services now due to lack of local service competition regulations, this means we either pay what the ISP sets the cost of service at, or do without. This plan is going to eliminate user's in the end when you this regulation is placing the cart before the horse. Top down regulations will cause lawful price hikes, and local laws to change again in favor of ISP's ...when are you going to actually do your job and see things from the bottom up for once??? ISP's want and lobby for this plan, because they know in the end, they get wealthier, and are relieved of the future burden of Bandwidth issues they are facing now, because they know this will massively reduce the internet usage and free up bandwidth.

  7. Guest says:

    I wonder how this will effect Apple. Many of the apps on the iPhone use the Internet for communications but Apple is well known for denying the usage of apps even if they benefit the consumer.

  8. Guest says:

    I cannot trust the FCC to regulate the internet . Your document reads well, but this needs to be in the hands of the people and our elective representatives (not bureaucrats at the FCC

  9. MJB says:

    I'm deeply saddened by the Commission's retreat from the principal of full transparency. Without it, consumers have few tools to insure these basic rights are not being violated.

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