FCC Chairman Pushes for Net Neutrality

Today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech at The Brookings Institution outlining two new principles in his support for net neutrality, adding to the four the FCC previously embraced under the chairmanship of Michael Powell.

The new two are:

  1. Preventing Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management.
  2. Ensuring that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement.

The previous four principles are:

  • Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice
  • Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement;
  • Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers

“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.”

Google, a proponent of net neutrality, wasted no time in supporting the Chairman. Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist took to the Google Public Policy blog to voice his support. He wrote:

If consumers had a wide choice of broadband service providers, preserving an open Internet might not be such a critical issue. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have few (if any) choices in selecting a provider. As a result, these providers are in a position to influence whether and how consumers and producers can use the on-ramps to the Internet — and we’ve already seen several examples of discriminatory actions or threats that impair openness.

Based on Cerf’s statement, wouldn’t it make more sense to simply increase competition, which is currently hindered by regulation? Carriers who fight for customers are less likely to restrict access to websites, which has been tested by cable companies offering tiered Internet plans. These plans, of course, are not very popular with consumers, who do indeed want access to an open internet, thus making competition a viable tool in the pursuit of said open internet.

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