FCC Head Genachowski Outlines New Net-Neutrality Principles

By September 21, 2009

FCC chair Julius Genachowski today announced two new net-neutrality measures aimed squarely at internet service providers. “The rise of serious challenges to the free and open Internet puts us at a crossroads. We could see the Internet’s doors shut to entrepreneurs, the spirit of innovation stifled, a full and free flow of information compromised,” Genachowski said during this morning's speech at The Brookings Institution in Washington DC. “Or we could take steps to preserve internet openness, helping ensure a future of opportunity, innovation, and a vibrant marketplace of ideas,” the FCC head said.

Genachowski proposed adding two additional principles to the “Four Freedoms” endorsed by the FCC in 2005: non-discrimination and transparency. The principle of non-discrimination would ensure that internet providers do not block lawful content, while the principle of transparency would require them to disclose their network management practices.

“The fundamental goal of what I’ve outlined today is preserving the openness and freedom of the Internet,” Genachowski said.

Internet founder Vin Cerf applauds Genachowski’s moves.

“Today the FCC took an important step in protecting that environment and ensuring that the Internet remains a platform for innovation, economic growth, and free expression,” Cerf wrote.

Opposition has come from service providers like AT&T and Verizon. Predictably, AT&T supports the measures for broadband, but is against them for wireless.

There is also partisan opposition. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) introduced an amendment that would limit the FCC’s powers by denying it funding.

"I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading. Even during a severe downturn, America has experienced robust investment and innovation in network performance and online content and applications," Hutchison said.

"For that innovation to continue, we must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations,” the senator added. “Where there have been a handful of questionable actions in the past on the part of a few companies, the commission and the marketplace have responded swiftly."

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