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FCC lays out Net neutrality framework: Transparency of network management eyed

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday outlined a Net Neutrality framework to prevent Internet providers from discriminating against content and applications while requiring them to be transparent about their network management practices.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday outlined a Net Neutrality framework to prevent Internet providers from discriminating against content and applications while requiring them to be transparent about their network management practices.

Those two items---non-discrimination and transparency---are new requirements Genachowski added to the FCC's four open Internet principles (Techmeme, FCC statement, Genachowski speech, OpenInternet.gov).

Add it up and there's a six-item Net neutrality framework the FCC is pushing. Genachowski said he will seek to codify these six principles through a notice at the FCC's October meeting. The FCC will ask for input and feedback and then proceed. One key item: How to determine whether network management practices are reasonable and what information broadband providers should disclose about their practices.

The Net neutrality principles now include:

  • Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • Consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
  • Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
  • Internet access providers can't discriminate against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management.
  • Internet access providers must be transparent about the network management practices they implement.

In Genachowski's speech at the Brookings Institute, he aimed to counter what companies will note in their forthcoming commentaries.

Here's an excerpt and you should read the full speech.

The fundamental goal of what I’ve outlined today is preserving the openness and freedom of the Internet. We have an obligation to ensure that the Internet is an enduring engine for U.S. economic growth, and a foundation for democracy in the 21st century. We have an obligation to ensure that the Internet remains a vast landscape of innovation and opportunity.

This is not about government regulation of the Internet. It’s about fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the Internet. We will do as much as we need to do, and no more, to ensure that the Internet remains an unfettered platform for competition, creativity, and entrepreneurial activity.

This is not about protecting the Internet against imaginary dangers. We’re seeing the breaks and cracks emerge, and they threaten to change the Internet’s fundamental architecture of openness. This would shrink opportunities for innovators, content creators, and small businesses around the country, and limit the full and free expression the Internet promises. This is about preserving and maintaining something profoundly successful and ensuring that it’s not distorted or undermined. If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late.

Some will seek to invoke innovation and investment as reasons not to adopt open Internet rules. But history’s lesson is clear: Ensuring a robust and open Internet is the best thing we can do to promote investment and innovation. And while there are some who see every policy decision as either pro-business or pro-consumer, I reject that approach; it’s not the right way to see technology’s role in America.