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New Rules for an Open Internet

December 21st, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

Julius GenachowskiAlmost everyone seems to agree that the openness of the Internet is essential — it has unleashed an enormous wave of innovation, economic growth, job creation, small business generation, and vibrant free expression.

But for too long, the freedom and openness of the Internet has been unprotected.

No rules on the books to protect basic Internet values.  No process for monitoring Internet openness as technology and business models evolve.  No recourse for innovators, consumers, or speakers harmed by improper practices. And no predictability for Internet service providers, so that they can effectively manage and invest in broadband networks.

Earlier today, that all changed.

As a result of a vote, which was just taken by the FCC, we have — for the first time — enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness.

The rules we have adopted are straightforward, and they enshrine a set of key principles.

First, consumers and innovators have a right to know the basic performance characteristics of their Internet access and how their network is being managed.  We have adopted a transparency rule that will give consumers and innovators the clear and simple information they need to make informed choices in choosing networks or designing the next killer app.

Second, consumers and innovators have a right to send and receive lawful traffic — to go where they want, say what they want, experiment with ideas — commercial and social, and use the devices of their choice.  Our new rules thus prohibit the blocking of lawful content, apps, services, and the connection of devices to the network.

Third, consumers and innovators have a right to a level playing field.  No central authority, public or private, should have the power to pick winners and losers on the Internet; that’s the role of the commercial market and the marketplace of ideas.

That is why we adopted a ban on unreasonable discrimination.  And we are making clear that so-called “pay for priority” arrangements involving fast lanes for some companies but not others are unlikely to be allowed.

The rules also recognize that broadband providers need meaningful flexibility to manage their networks to deal with congestion, security, and other issues.  And we recognize the importance and value of business-model experimentation, such as tiered pricing.

These rules fulfill many promises, including a promise to the future – a promise to the companies that don’t yet exist, and the entrepreneurs who haven’t yet started work in their dorm rooms or garages.

Today, the FCC did the right thing for the future of Internet freedom, and I look forward to building on today’s roles as the FCC continues its work to promote innovation, investment, and job creation, and to improve the lives of the American people through communications technology.

Share your Thoughts

Note: E-mail address is required for comment to be entered into the formal public record and
e-mail addresses may be subject to public disclosure. Read more here

  1. It is clear that Fr Doyle was called to live a more intense life of penance than many others.

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  2. Nicolette Lane says:

    It seems pretty straightforward, geared toward preventing favoritism and “black hat” techniques on the internet, but I can’t help retaining some skepticism.

    http://www.t3directusa.com

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  3. Timothy Brandt says:

    The FCC did not do the right thing today. ISP’s may be complaining publicly, but I’m sure they’re secretly relieved. These rules are anything but straightforward. How are they going to be enforced? What happened to a guarantee of common carriage? Why no firm statement prohibiting any “pay for priority” systems, which will allow the major corporations to buy up connectivity while the entrepreneur is forced to make do with a faint voice and scant presence? And allowing for the possibility of “tiered pricing” is in direct conflict with the preservation of “freedom and openness” to access the Internet. Suddenly, I not only have to pay for my connection, but if I need significant data transfer to establish my company, I can’t get it, because I can’t pay the additional bandwidth usage fees.

    FCC, you took the easy way out on this one, at a time when unambiguous rules are paramount to the Internet’s continued vibrancy. Unequivocally forbid “pay-for-priority” systems, which will insidiously destroy free speech on the Internet, and reinstate common carriage regarding Internet service providers by invoking Title II common carriage regulations. We, the consumer, must be allowed to decide what we see and listen to on the Internet, not the ISP’s, and this principle must be enshrined in no uncertain terms.

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  4. Guest says:

    Who will Pay for this comment by the FCC?

    “The FCC is focused on ensuring that every American has access to open and robust high-speed Internet service – or “broadband” – including through the development of a National Broadband Plan that Congress and the President have charged the FCC with producing.”

    The ones who work hard and can currently afford high speed internet will. They will shoulder the burden with higher rates on high speed internet. This is a tax on the middle class. The FCC has no business regulating the internet.

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  5. Guest says:

    Who will pay for the following statement by the FCC?

    “The FCC is focused on ensuring that every American has access to open and robust high-speed Internet service – or “broadband” – including through the development of a National Broadband Plan that Congress and the President have charged the FCC with producing.”

    The people who already have high speed internet will be held accountable and pay who those who cannot afford high speed internet through higher rates. This is a tax on the middle class. The FCC has no business regulating the internet. This sets the stage for political corruption.

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