FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin

FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin

Summary: The Federal Communications Communication approved Net neutrality regulations, but these rules are likely to face challenges.


The Federal Communications Communication approved net neutrality regulations 3-2 on Tuesday, but these rules are likely to face challenges from a new Congress.

Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed a  vote on an open Internet framework. The biggest item is that the rules would bar carriers from discriminating against legal Internet traffic. The catch is that providers could charge more to companies that want faster service for games, videos and other bandwidth intensive content.

In an open meeting, Genachowski said that open Internet rules are the first to protect basic values. There are no regulations today. "We're told by some to not try and fix what's not broken. Countless innovators and investors say just the opposite. We've heard from so many entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and CEOs and their message is clear: The next decade of innovation is at risk without basic rules of the road," he said. "Our action will strengthen Internet job creation and ensure Internet freedom at home and around the world."

This framework breaks down like this:

  • Consumers will have a transparent view into how networks are being managed. This information will allow consumers to make a decision on whether to subscribe or use a particular broadband network.
  • Consumers and innovators “have a right to send and receive lawful Internet traffic — to go where they want and say what they want online, and to use the devices of their choice.” Blocking legal content, apps, devices and services is prohibited.
  • No central authority should be able to pick winners or losers by discriminating against “lawful network traffic.”
  • Meanwhile, broadband providers should have the “meaningful flexibility” to manage their networks. These providers should also have incentives—ie profit potential—to build out networks.

FCC commissioner Michael Copps said that a vote for the net neutrality rules was one for free speech and innovation. "Previous telecommunications technologies also preached openness and then fell under consolidated control," said Copps, who railed against "entrenched interests." Copps said the FCC's net neutrality framework didn't go far enough, but he'd vote for it so the gears of an open Internet wouldn't halt. Some provisions may need "repaving." Commissioner Mignon Clyburn supported the framework, but wanted wireless included. Genachowski argued that wireless broadband is too nascent to be included in the framework.

Commissioner Robert McDowell said he "strongly disagrees with this order." McDowell said the FCC can't make laws and Congress is going to shut down the net neutrality framework. In other words, there's a legislative collision course on tap. He called the vote "the FCC's darkest day" and courts will sink the framework.

Meredith Attwell Baker, another FCC commissioner, sided with McDowell. She said that the FCC is messing with the one part of the economy that's working. Baker argued that consumers won't benefit and regulators are overreaching without evidence of wrongdoing. The FCC won't be successful as the Internet's referee, she said. "The vote today is not the end of this debate," said Baker.

Carriers such as Comcast have called Genachowski's framework a workable compromise.

With the vote out of the way net neutrality becomes a political hot potato in Congress. The FCC wants to be the Internet traffic cop, but Congress has never really authorized it to take such a role. That debate will pick up with a new Congress in January.

Topics: Browser, Government, Government US, Networking

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  • So which is it?

    <blockquote><i>The FCC wants to be the Internet traffic cop, but Congress has never really authorized it to take such a role. That debate will pick up with a new Congress in January.</i></blockquote>

    When some States tried to regulate open access rules for cable and DSL, they were challenged in court on the grounds that Internet access was the FCC's job -- and the cable companies won that one.

    So if Congress or another court decides that Internet access <i>isn't</i> the FCC's job, does that mean that it's back to the States?
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Actually, the law leaves it to the FCC

      @Yagotta B. Kidding
      In the "Brand X" decision, the Supreme Court stated that it was within the authority of the FCC (according to the 1934 Communication Act) whether to classify broadband as "common carrier".

      In that case, the FCC has broad authority to require ISPs to provide consumers with non-discriminatory access to web sites, which just happens to be what network neutrality means.

      The recent court judgement (April?) was basically that the FCC couldn't impose this type of regulation *unless* they used their authority to classify broadband access under common carrier.
      • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin


        He's saying the cable companies lawyers or bribe machine or both has successfully argued both sides in court. In summation Courts=FAIL, government=FAIL, massive corrupt hypocritical evil monopoly=WIN
    • Brainless liberals are amazing, ain't they?

      They are celebrating while government is out to grab more power and their tax along the way. Uhhh hold on, how many of them actually pay income tax btw? Anyhow so they tell us government has to have a role in managing internet fairness, huh? <br><br>Let's see this is what, after they set up Fed to protect the value of our Dollar only to print it to the brink of collapse (checked gold price lately?), after they set up FDIC to protect our savings only to have almost entire Wall St. collapse, after they set up Fannie Mae to promote affordable housing only to blow a gigantic bubble and trap everyone in overpriced mortgages, after they set up Social Security that has no money only to put everyone's retirement into insecurity, after they set up SEC to monitor investment integrity only to sit there watching online porn while Madoff was stealing money despite several tips, after ....<br><br>How much more looting does it take for these sheeples to understand big government = fraud, incompetence and corruption? No wonder this nation is deeply f***ed w/ so many fools cheering for Stalin-ization.
      • I agree, LBiege


        Can you IMAGINE the hue and cry that would be happening if this had been done by the FCC during the Bush Administration? Wow! The caterwauling would be deafening.
      • ..and one more thing..


        I'm STILL waiting for the righteous outrage at Obama for Afghanistan, rally cries of "WAR CRIMINAL," and shouting from the rooftops over the TSA molestations.

        @LBiege :
        All this just means that WE MUST VOTE THEM ALL OUT OF OFFICE - THE LIBERALS! We must REPEAL all these ridiculous regulations - all of them! This was only one step in a list of many that will impair this country beyond repair. USE YOUR VOTE THIS SPRING. Use the Internet to email, blog, and whatever you can to contact your Reps and Senators with your OUTRAGE over this. THIS IS WHAT REAGAN MEANT WHEN HE TOLD US THAT THIS COUNTRY WAS THE LAST FREE STAND FOR FREEDOM. Baby steps is what the liberals are doing. This is just one and they will bet you will accept it and then they will move on to the next step. HAM RADIO AND BBS ANYONE? That's where I am going. No more Internet for me if this isn't repealed. NO MORE.
      • Well stated.


        How is it we just keep moving towards making Government God? (When most of us don't want that).
      • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin

        @LBiege (et.al.)

        One of the things that people don't understand is the worship of charlatans by the unknowledgable masses. A piece of history that needs to be taught to the young at home and in primary schools is the life and times of Franz Mesmer back at the turn of the 19th century. Herr Mesmer, to the astonishment and disdain of the medical community at the time believed that illness could be cured with magnetism. He coined the phrase Animal Magnetism in his theory which since has been twisted to its meaning today. The truth of his practices was he used hypnosis to bilk his patients with miracle cures that were nothing more than temporary fixes for more serious problems. When eventually he was investigated, he was driven into exile because his practices were found to be false.

        Oh, by the way, his name is still used today whenever anyone is mesmerized by anything.

        American politicians are all charlatans. Not one representative is there to represent his/her constituents. This morning I grimaced in despair as the President thanked Nacy Pelosi for her work on repealing Dont Ask Dont Tell. The applause from the crowd as he expressed thanks is a representation of how truly unintelligent the general population is. Those folks that can't spell the word Dictionary but can sing the jingles to at least 5 commercials.

        We live in ridiculous times.
      • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin

        @LBiege So, Bush was a liberal too? How about Reagan? Or Nixon, or Ford? We could even go back farther... Despite the fact that this particular decision happens to come now, government personnel have been f*****g things up for generations now. I don't know why it pisses me off so much seeing "Liberal" this or "Conservative" that when armchair politicians start to spout about what's wrong with the world, but it does. Maybe it's the fact that it seems to be empty venting or whining... at any rate, the dollar has been devalued steadily throughout the 20th century, b*****t laws and controls put into place, crooked dealings on Wall Street, on and on and on, regardless of the political affiliations of the di*****d who happens to have the title of president at any given time.
        Bitch all you want about it, but if it's going to be passed, they're not going to give a s**t how much you complain about it on ZDNet's forum... one way or another...
        F**k 'em all, and happy f****n' holidays to everyone...
      • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin


        Compared to what? What we have now is NOT a free market. Right now we have a system in which the corporations are protected by the government. Either we need a free and competitive market or we need consumer protection. What we have now is a government supported market with no consumer protection. That's not compromise.
      • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin

        @LBiege you act like the so called conservatives have been any better, remember Reagan when he increased the deficit by 97 billion? or GW bush increased it by 1.1 trillion? or Gerald Ford increasing it by 67 Billion? these were all republicans, who preach lower taxes and less government and less spending, and those three guys grew the government more than anyone except FDR, since woodrow wilson, so dont feed us the "its all the liberals fault" stuff, its getting old....
  • Questions for opponents

    One Republican member of the FCC claimed that net neutrality is a "threat to our freedom."

    In that net neutrality is the consumer's right to use whatever internet (web) based sites that they want, do you think that it is the consumer himself/herself that threatens our freedom?

    Or is it consumer's choice that is so injurious the freedom itself?

    If giving consumers the right to use what web site they want is a threat to our freedom, does it logically follow that we would be *more* free if we give the ISPs the right to restrict the internet sites we can visit to only those that offer kickbacks to the ISP?
    • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin


      I think everyone would agree that Comcast shouldn't throttle Netflix when the Comcast customer has paid Comcast for access to the Internet....which includes Netflix.

      There is however, a great concern about the FCC sticking their foot in the Internet door and gaining power to regulate. Will we need to purchase an FCC license in order to publish a website in the near future? While the current bill doesn't mention anything like this, FCC's paws on the Internet cookie jar could easily lead to just that.
      • Slippery slopes and gerbils

        Slippery slope argument: If women get the vote, before you know it gerbils will too.

        To view arguments with an open mind means you have to look at the good and bad of the proposal before you, and reject the boogie man hypothetical not before us.

        I'd agree that giving the priority to consumer choice (as opposed to ISP control) is not the only way to structure the internet, but it is consistent with the creation of Google and about a million more innovative services.
    • Consumer's right to use the internet?


      Can you please show me where in the Constitution we are given "rights" to use or buy anything that is a product or service?
      • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin


        We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

        We the people (founders) gave the government the right to defend domestic tranquility and to promote general welfare. (Not meaning welfare checks) The final dagger at the heart of the argument: establish justice. Whose justice? The people's justice.

        And then you take those words and redefine them over two hundred years, add some events and technology and you get the rules we have today.
      • fubar4fun: that was so convoluted and so stupid...

        Look, SAStarling had a good question and all that you did was to spin a tiny bit of what our forefathers had to say when establishing the constitution and the country.

        You still didn't answer SAStarling's question.

        Nowhere in the constitution is there a reference to the right of people to have a good life and to share in the wealth or to be granted access to a product or service.

        Sure, there have been interpretations and reinterpretations and spinning of the original intents of the supreme laws of the land, but, going back to the original, there are not guarantees. The only guarantee is to make sure that all people have the same protections under the law to seek their own levels for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Nowhere is there a guarantee that, everybody will have the same level of wealth and access to everything in life.
      • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin


        Strictly speaking, the constitution limits the power of the government, i.e. anything that isn't the right of the government is the right of the people. Additionally, it contains the "commerce clause", which states that the government regulates interstate commerce. Part of the Interstate Commerce Act is to protect from discrimination and guarantee access. So, pretty much anyway you cut it, we're guaranteed internet access if we pay a fair price for it.

        Personally, I'd like to see a lot of non-profits spring up to eliminate Comcast. You know, like Firefox. Anyone here using Firefox?
      • RE: FCC approves net neutrality framework; Now the politics begin

        @SAStarling: Several places. In a few, "All powers not granted to <x> are reserved for <y>" clauses make it clear that government at both Federal and State levels can't abridge the "life, libery and pusruit of happiness" part of the Constitution without the consent of the people. We gave the government the power to "regulate commerce" on the manufacturing end only, not the consumption end of things. And even then, we can manufacture anything we desire within certain limits and consume or hire those products or services as we desire. THink of it this way, did we give the government any power to regulate out ability to breathe? Or fart, belch, eat or fornicate? Unless we let them have it, government has no power at all. Sad to say, the sheeple have already let them get too much as it is. I say, a pox on all houses, parties, conservative, liberal or whathaveyou.