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FCC Proposes Net Neutrality Protection Plan

Seeks to Begin Rulemaking Process

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This morning FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech, detailing a proposal for keeping the Internet open for access to consumers, and protecting net neutrality. The proposal would prevent ISPs from discriminating against certain services, apps, or viewpoints on the web. It would also require those ISPs to be transparent about their network management practices.

Google, which captures a significant amount of web use, supports the proposal, as is indicated by a piece on the company’s public policy blog.

Vint Cerf"To some it may seem like an esoteric issue, but this boils down to protecting the Internet as an engine for innovation, economic growth, social discourse, and the free flow of ideas," says Vint Cerf, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist (who is often referred to as the Father of the Internet). "Preserving non-discriminatory access also has the virtue of protecting consumer choice, ensuring that an Internet access provider cannot block fair access to any application provider on the Internet. We could not be more pleased to see Chairman Genachowski take up this mantle, and we look forward to working with the Commission as it finalizes its plans."

In the rather lengthy speech, Genachowski proposed to move forward by not only addressing the four Internet principles previously announced, which state that network operators can’t prevent users from accessing lawful Internet content, apps, and services or prohibit users from attaching non-harmful devices to the network, but by adding two new principles as well. The new principles are for non-discrimination and transparency.

Genachowski also wishes to make sure the same principles apply to all devices, no matter how a person connects to the Internet. "It is essential that the Internet itself remain open, however users reach it," he said. "The principles I’ve been speaking about apply to the Internet however accessed, and I will ask my fellow Commissioners to join me in confirming this."

Julius Genachowski"Of course, how the principles apply may differ depending on the access platform or technology," he added. "The rulemaking process will enable the Commission to analyze fully the implications of the principles for mobile network architectures and practices — and how, as a practical matter, they can be fairly and appropriately implemented. As we tackle these complex questions involving different technologies used for Internet access, let me be clear that we will be focused on formulating policies that will maximize innovation and investment, consumer choice, and greater competition."

Today appears to have been a good day for the preservation of net neutrality, though regulators must still go through the rulemaking process. They will be holding a number of public workshops, and use the Internet and other new media tools to "facilitate participation." A new site has been launched at openinternet.gov where users can participate in discussion of net neutrality issues. For more details on the proposal, read Genachowski’s speech.

FCC Proposes Net Neutrality Protection Plan
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    This is a very important issue and I can only hope that from what I have read here, that the spirit and tone remain the same going forward.