Advisory Groups Not a Substitute for Rules of the Road

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Advisory Groups Not a Substitute for Rules of the Road

Companies Cannot Be Trusted to Police Themselves

WASHINGTON - In response to today's announcement that an industry group had formed to examine network management practices, Free Press Policy Counsel M. Chris Riley made the following statement:

"While there is nothing wrong with industry attempting to identify broadband network management practices that do not harm users, this or any other voluntary effort is not a substitute for the government setting basic rules of the road for the Internet. Even if this group puts out excellent recommendations, they will be just that - recommendations.

"There must be a separate FCC rulemaking process, which can take the recommendations of this or any other voluntary advisory group into account, but rubber-stamping those recommendations would ignore the agency's mandate to create public policy in the public interest. Allowing industry to set its own rules is like allowing BP to regulate its drilling. The Comcast BitTorrent case shows that without government oversight, Internet Service Providers will engage in what are already deemed by engineers to be bad practices.

"This industry effort is premature. Decisions about the meaning of nondiscrimination in network management must stem from a legal framework and be backed by enforceable rules."

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