September 21st, 2009
03:26 PM ET
13 years ago

FCC chairman proposes Net neutrality rules

NEW YORK ( - The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission outlined rules on Monday that would prohibit Internet providers from selectively blocking Web content and applications.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said his proposal would formalize the concept of "Net neutrality." On Monday he added two tenets to an existing set of four industry guidelines that have been recommended by the agency since 2005.

An FCC panel will vote on whether to turn these guidelines into official commission rules sometime in October.

"This is not about government regulation of the Internet," Genachowski said. "It's about fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the Internet."

The principle of Net neutrality dictates that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet access providers, and has been a source of
contention since the Internet's inception decades ago. So far, the Web has been largely self-regulated.

The Net neutraility debate pits large Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast against content and application providers like Google and Skype that rely on those connections to deliver their webpages and programs to consumers.

At issue is the fact that data-heavy applications, like a video from YouTube for instance, can clog and slow down Internet connections, disrupting service for customers and costing providers money.

Internet providers argue that they should be free to block or manage content that taxes their networks, unhindered by any regulation, while content providers like Google say that selective blocking is unfair and stymies innovation.

In Monday's speech to the Washington-based think tank The Brookings Institution, Genachowski cited the open-system design of the Internet as the main driver behind the way it has revolutionized the world.

"The Internet's creators didn't want the network architecture - or any single entity to pick winners and losers," Genachowski said. "Because it might pick the wrong ones."

The three Democrats on the FCC panel have said they support net neutrality, and they represent a majority of the five members. Republicans have mostly opposed Net neutrality rules, arguing that Internet self-regulation has worked well and that the FCC doesn't need to become involved.

If the FCC passes Genachowski's proposal, it would codify six principles as official commission rules.

1. Accessing content. The first rule states that consumers should not be limited in the content they choose to view online, as long as it's legal.

2. Using applications. Internet users should be able to run any application they want as long as they don't exceed service plan limitations or
harm the provider's network.

3. Attaching personal devices. Consumers should be permitted to connect products they buy to their Internet connection, as long as the devices operate within the service plan and do not harm the network or enable theft of service.

4. Obtaining service plan information. Customers should be able to easily review their options when buying Internet service plans and learn about how those plans protect against spyware and other invasions of privacy.

5. New rule: Non-discrimination. Internet providers would be prohibited from selectively blocking or slowing Web content or applications.

6. New rule: Transparency. Providers would be required to make theirnetwork management practices clear and available to consumers.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Dirty Presidency

    There is nothing wrong with this as long as Obama keeps his dirty nose out of it and everyone else's business.

    September 21, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Phat Elvis

    YES! free enterprise on the internet is what drove its phenomenal growth. it needs to stay that way lest it goes the way of cable tv.

    September 21, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. Typical Republican

    Stop making rules that ensure freedom of speech and ban the ability to best serve the nation. It's not american to be trying to protect our freedoms of both speech as well as freedom to information. We're gonna be better informed if this goes through, and that's just WRONG!

    September 21, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Kevin in Ohio

    Under this, it appears that Internet Service providers would need to be re-named "Internet DISservice providers" if they are not allowed to selectively regulate what passes through. Once again, good intentions of the regulators has potential dire consequences.

    September 21, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. Moderate Democrat

    Don't regulate the finance sector as the republicans suggested and endorsed brought us into an economic disaster. Now they want to apply that same retarded logic to the internet. These morons never learn. Their ideas are retarded and every one of them has proven to fail.

    Hey, let's torture them and see if they change their minds. Oh, that's right, torture is another one of those republican policies proven not to work.

    September 21, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. tjaman

    Excellent! Keep the traffic flowing equitably on the Web - there's too much potential for corruption otherwise. It's not the most exciting issue in the world, but I for one say w00t! 🙂

    September 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This has become where people can voice their ideas. Unlike during the revolution where pamphlets were how ideas get out; blogs now get people's ideas and feelings out. It will also keep the playing field level for businesses; Amazon will have the same access as the local book store.

    September 21, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  8. kaleto

    This is how government is SUPPOSED to work–by preventing greedy companies from ripping off the consumer!

    September 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Melissa

    Thats good, but that begs the question of things like child pornography, prostitution, and other things that we all consider wrong. Those things should really be stopped, so the internet cannot be completely neutral.

    September 21, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. J.P.

    When anyone from the government says, "This is not about government regulation of [fill in the blank]," you can rest assured they are lying.

    "This is not about government regulation of [the banking industry]."
    "This is not about government regulation of [the lending industry]."
    "This is not about government regulation of [the housing industry]."
    "This is not about government regulation of [the insurance industry]."
    "This is not about government regulation of [the auto industry]."
    "This is not about government regulation of [the medical industry]."

    Their track record isn't all that stellar.

    I'm sure they can understand our apprehension and unwillingness to take ANYONE from this administration at face value on anything, including the color of the sky.

    September 21, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. Fed UP

    Here we go again. The Democrats keep wasting time and money on things they could not get passed before. Bigger GOVERNMENT is not the answer. Will someone over there in Congess and the White House please pay attention.

    September 21, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. mike

    I wonder what the 'Truth-O-Meter' has to say about "This is not about government regulation of the Internet."

    September 21, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. Net Neutrality is the CURRENT MODEL

    Just for the uninformed....right now the Net is relatively neutral. Net Neutrality is NECESSARY to prevent private companies from breaking the current Net model and imposing one where they get to decide whose traffic is more important. This goes against the Internet model going back to the 1970s. Say what you will about other regulations, Net Neutrality is something Internet users WANT.

    September 21, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. yuri

    Now, wait a minute. If Govt. starts to pry around in the private internet lives of citizens, how is it any different from W's wireless tapping?

    September 21, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. LacrosseMom

    No one of the far-right complained when the Bush Regime was spying on every American.

    September 21, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. dennisk

    To all those who assume regulation is a negative, may I propose that we get rid of stop signs and traffic lights? I would sell my car and stop driving if that ever happened, because there are people who can't be trusted to do the right thing. Businesses are run by people, so businesses need SOME regulation as well.
    Net neutrality is a POSITIVE because it insures that some suit is not deciding that my internet traffic is less important (that is, less profit worthy) than someone else's. If it takes a government regulation to ensure that, put me down as a 'Yea.'

    September 21, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |