The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy Karr: 201-533-8838,,

Free Press Calls for ISP Transparency


Free Press is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to
require all broadband providers to disclose any practice that monitors
or interferes with their customers' Internet use. In addition to
transparent "network management" practices, according to a new filing
with the agency, Free Press wants the FCC to require Internet service
providers to publicly disclose the minimum broadband speed guaranteed
-- not just the maximum potential speed offered.

Two recent high-profile cases of abuse highlight the urgent need for
tougher disclosure requirements. Online marketer NebuAd partnered with
several broadband providers to secretly monitor and reroute user
information into private servers -- until a congressional inquiry
exposed the dubious practice. Comcast, the country's largest cable
company, secretly blocked users' access to online applications for more
than a year before an FCC investigation forced the company to admit to
the illegal practice.

In light of these abuses, Free Press is urging the FCC to
immediately propose rules that would ensure consumers know what speeds
they're actually getting and how their online communications are being
handled or mishandled by their broadband providers.

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, issued the following statement:

"The pervasive lack of transparency in the broadband industry has
opened the door to rampant abuse. After recent episodes of secret
spying and secret blocking, consumers have good reason to question
whether cable and phone companies will respect their privacy and their
right to free speech.

"The reality is that consumers have no way of knowing how their
Internet usage is being altered, tracked or redirected by their ISPs.
Terms of service agreements contain the vaguest language that corporate
lawyers can devise -- further stacking the deck against the consumer.
It took years to uncover Comcast's illegal behavior and NebuAd's
intrusive technology. And it could take years more to uncover the next
hidden harm.

"Moving forward, we propose that any service provider that wants to
manipulate the connection between Internet users and Internet content
has an obligation to disclose what it is doing. Without industry-wide
transparency, Internet users are likely to blame service disruptions on
their computers or themselves rather than where it belongs -- on their

"This transparency also means more truth in broadband billing. It is
downright deceptive that some broadband providers are prominently
advertising super-fast networks that don't match up with the actual
services delivered. The FCC must ensure that consumers know what kind
of service they are really buying."

Read Free Press' filing:

Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what's actually happening in their communities.

(202) 265-1490