As expected, the FCC’s December Open Meeting will consider internet rules and regulations designed to promote the concept of network neutrality, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the proposal is rooted in the work of his two Republican predecessors. However, one of his Republican colleagues, Robert McDowell, quickly announced his opposition to the proposal.
Discussing a draft proposal circulated to the commissioners, Genachowski said, “This framework, if adopted later this month, would advance a set of core goals: It would ensure that the Internet remains a powerful platform for innovation and job creation; it would empower consumers and entrepreneurs; it would protect free expression; it would increase certainty in the marketplace, and spur investment both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks.
Genachowski laid out three guiding principles:
“First, consumers and innovators have a right to know basic information about broadband service, like how networks are being managed. The proposed framework therefore starts with a meaningful transparency obligation, so that consumers and innovators have the information they need to make smart choices about subscribing to or using a broadband network, or how to develop the next killer app. Sunshine can help solve problems early, reducing the number of issues that even come to the FCC.
“Second, consumers and innovators have a right to send and receive lawful Internet traffic — to go where they want and say what they want online, and to use the devices of their choice. Thus, the proposed framework would prohibit the blocking of lawful content, apps, services, and the connection of non-harmful devices to the network.
“Third, consumers and innovators have a right to a level playing field. No central authority, public or private, should have the power to pick which ideas or companies win or lose on the Internet; that’s the role of the market and the marketplace of ideas. And so the proposed framework includes a bar on unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic.
He said the proposal was based on concepts of former chairmen Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, and had widespread support “…from leading Internet and technology companies, founders and investors; consumer and public interest groups, unions, civil rights organizations, and broadband providers.”
McDowell was not among the supporters. He said, “Minutes before midnight last night, Chairman Genachowski announced his intent to adopt sweeping regulations of Internet network management at the FCC’s open meeting on December 21. I strongly oppose this ill-advised maneuver. Such rules would upend three decades of bipartisan and international consensus that the Internet is best able to thrive in the absence of regulation.
“Pushing a small group of hand-picked industry players toward a ‘choice’ between a bad option (Title I Internet regulation) or a worse option (regulating the Internet like a monopoly phone company under Title II) smacks more of coercion than consensus or compromise.
“This ‘agreement’ has been extracted in defiance of not only the courts, but a large, bipartisan majority of Congress as well. Both have admonished the FCC not to reach beyond its statutory powers to regulate Internet access. By choosing this highly interventionist course, the Commission is ignoring the will of the elected representatives of the American people.”