Published on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
Net Neutrality Advocates Decry FCC 'False' Solution and 'Squandered Opportunity'
Statements by Free Press and ACLU
WASHINGTON - The media advocacy group Free Press released the following statement in response to actions by the FCC today:
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The rule passed by the FCC today does not reclassify wireless broadband service as a telecommunications service, which the ACLU and other proponents of network neutrality have long urged. Treating broadband access as similar to phone service would have allowed the FCC to rely on its broader regulatory authority. By a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission approved new rules intended to prevent Internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from acting as gatekeepers on the Web. The rules, however, heavily favor the industry they are intended to regulate, and leave consumers with minimal protections. Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael Copps voted with Chairman Julius Genachowski, while Republican Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker voted against.
Free Press Managing Director Craig Aaron made the following statement:
“We are deeply disappointed that the chairman chose to ignore the overwhelming public support for real Net Neutrality, instead moving forward with industry-written rules that will for the first time in Internet history allow discrimination online. This proceeding was a squandered opportunity to enact clear, meaningful rules to safeguard the Internet’s level playing field and protect consumers.
“The new rules are riddled with loopholes, evidence that the chairman sought approval from AT&T instead of listening to the millions of Americans who asked for real Net Neutrality. These rules don't do enough to stop the phone and cable companies from dividing the Internet into fast and slow lanes, and they fail to protect wireless users from discrimination. No longer can you get to the same Internet via your mobile device as you can via your laptop. The rules pave the way for AT&T to block your access to third-party applications and to require you to use its own preferred applications.
“Chairman Genachowski ignored President Obama's promise to the American people to take a 'back seat to no one' on Net Neutrality. He ignored the 2 million voices who petitioned for real Net Neutrality and the hundreds who came to public hearings across the country to ask him to protect the open Internet. And he ignored policymakers who urged him to protect consumers and maintain the Internet as a platform for innovation. It’s unfortunate that the only voices he chose to listen to were those coming from the very industry he’s charged with overseeing."
The American Civil Liberties Union released this statement:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today passed a new rule clarifying the legal authority of the FCC to enforce network neutrality principles. Network neutrality principles protect free speech online by prohibiting the owner of a network from prioritizing some content on the Internet while slowing other content.
The rule approved today by the FCC includes full network neutrality protections for the wired Internet, which includes cable and DSL service to homes and businesses, but provides lesser protections for wireless broadband service and may allow wireless broadband providers to block certain applications and services that compete with their own applications and services. The American Civil Liberties Union has called for network neutrality protections on both the wired and wireless Internet as important safeguards for free speech.
"Network neutrality principles are essential to protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans who rely on the Internet as a forum for free speech. While the new FCC rule creates stronger network neutrality protections for Americans who use the wired Internet, it fails to provide adequate protections for Americans who rely on wireless broadband service," said Chris Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "By creating two sets of regulations – one for the wired Internet and one for wireless broadband – and failing to ground them in the strongest legal protections available, the FCC has failed to protect free speech and Internet openness for all users. The ACLU will continue to fight for full network neutrality protections. Internet openness is key to protecting our First Amendment rights."
The rule passed by the FCC today does not reclassify wireless broadband service as a telecommunications service, which the ACLU and other proponents of network neutrality have long urged. Treating broadband access as similar to phone service would have allowed the FCC to rely on its broader regulatory authority under Title II of the Communications Act to enforce network neutrality principles.