Is FCC Peddling Fake Net Neutrality?

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35

Is FCC Peddling Fake Net Neutrality?

Chairman Schedules Dec. 21 Vote but Appears to Abandon Title II, Key Consumer Protections

WASHINGTON - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to introduce a new Network Neutrality proposal today in advance of a vote on the issue at the FCC on Dec. 21.

According to press reports, Genachowski will abandon his prior commitment to make new rules under Title II of the Communications Act, instead pursuing rules under the more legally precarious Title I.

While details are still scarce, the Genachowski proposal reportedly would not offer the same protections to wireless Internet users as it would to those using wired connections. It would also open the door to "paid prioritization," which could allow phone and cable companies to create toll roads that would favor the traffic of a select few companies that can pay by slowing down everyone else.

Free Press President and CEO Josh Silver made the following statement:

"To achieve real Net Neutrality and preserve the level playing field that is in the DNA of the Internet as we know it, the FCC must do a lot better than other failed proposals we have seen earlier this year floated by big corporations or designed to win the unanimous consent of Congress. You can call any policy Net Neutrality, but the devil is always in the details -- and right now the details look grim.

"We are glad the FCC is finally moving forward, but early reports indicate that this proposal looks like the fake Net Neutrality preferred by foes of the open Internet and retreats from the real consumer protections previously outlined by Chairman Genachowski. Real Net Neutrality means a clear prohibition on paid prioritization, equal protections on wireless and wired networks, and a clear user-focused definitions of broadband access and reasonable network management. But is appears that the current draft order falls short on each of these important aspects, with language that creates loopholes that you could drive a Verizon-Google-sized truck through.

"It is deeply disappointing that a Chairman who has placed wireless at the center of his entire broadband agenda would seek to adopt rules that give AT&T and Verizon a free hand to engage in economic discrimination and crush innovation by mobile application developers. Apparently Genachowski, who just last year believed it was essential that the Internet itself remain open, however users reach it, now says that it is acceptable for wireless carriers to arbitrarily discriminate.

"And by apparently allowing access providers to exploit the loophole of so-called specialized services, Genachowski is taking the same exact approach to splitting the open Internet into fast and slow lanes that Verizon and Google proposed last summer.

"Worse yet, by failing to restore the FCC's Title II authority, Chairman Genachowski could be unnecessarily placing Net Neutrality, and indeed his entire broadband agenda, at serious risk. The good news is that two of the other FCC commissioners, like President Obama and millions of Internet users, have loudly proclaimed their support for strong Net Neutrality rules. It will now be up to them to overhaul and improve this proposal to make sure the free and open Internet stays that way.

"Now is the moment for forward-looking, visionary policymaking, not half-measures and convoluted compromises with the companies trying to kill the free and open Internet. We look forward to working with the FCC Chairman and the full Commission to ensure that the agency passes real Net Neutrality rules that will protect the open Internet, promote competition and benefit all Internet users."

 

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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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