More than 80 organizations and businesses are today urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski to enact real Net Neutrality rules, not the empty compromise the chairman has proposed.
The letter highlights five key areas in the rules that should be improved to protect the free and open Internet. The Commission is slated to vote on Net Neutrality on Dec. 21.
The signers include Reporters without Borders, Daily Kos, Common Cause, Entertainment Consumers Association, Nonprofit Technology Network, ColorofChange.org, Center for Media Justice, National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America Foundation, Media Access Project and Public Knowledge.
As groups have scrambled to decry the weak proposal, Chairman Genachowski continues to schmooze with industry lobbyists who are delighted with the supposed Net Neutrality “compromise.” During an annual dinner last night honoring the chairman, Genachowski joked about his “closed door meetings” with the telecom lobby, who made a big showing at the event.
The Washington Post reported, “One lobbyist noted how AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and their biggest outside law firms overwhelmingly bought the most tables at the event. ‘It’s a metaphor for how the FCC is operating these days, with the armies surrounding it made up of the biggest incumbent carriers,’ the lobbyist noted.”
AT&T, Comcast and Verizon may be clapping, but we’re not. Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said:
- There are several fatal flaws with Chairman Genachowski's draft proposal that will harm the open Internet in irreversible ways if they are not addressed by the time the agency votes on a rule. If this proposal is adopted as is, the FCC will send a signal to the market that free speech and innovation on the Web require the permission of Comcast and AT&T.
The letter filed today outlines the key elements of real Net Neutrality apparently missing from the FCC’s proposal, and calls on the Commission to make sure each is included.
Real Net Neutrality, the groups say, must include a ban on paid prioritization, which would allow Internet service providers to speed up their preferred content and services while slowing down the rest; extending protections to wireless networks so mobile broadband providers cannot act as gatekeepers on the mobile Web; no loopholes in key language that would allow providers to exempt themselves from rules; and clear rules for “specialized services” that would prevent a pay-for-play platform that could stifle innovation and threaten the Internet’s level playing field.
The letter also asserts that rules must be built on a sound legal foundation and calls on the agency to restore its authority over broadband by reclassifying it under Title II of the Communications Act. Turner said:
- President Obama promised to take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality, and it is up to the FCC chairman to ensure that we have real, meaningful protections that would preserve the open Internet, promote universal broadband access and protect consumers. To make good on the president’s promise, the chairman must re-establish his agency’s authority over broadband. Without reclassifying, the FCC faces ominous legal challenges that would leave consumers unprotected from ISPs seeking to monopolize and monetize the Web.