This afternoon the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed comments supporting the FCC’s adoption of six principles designed to preserve and protect public access to the open Internet for the 21st Century. The comments were filed in response to the FCC’s request for comments on its proposed rule making to maintain Internet neutrality.
CCIA appreciates this initiative by the FCC because for too long net neutrality has been a polarized, rhetorical debate with one side complaining the government was trying to unnecessarily regulate the Internet. Meanwhile, on the other side, a broad coalition of Internet users cried foul over big corporate entities trying to regulate Internet usage with new business models to extract more profit. Neither side was offering many constructive solutions.
The following comments can be attributed to Ed Black, CCIA President & CEO:
“The FCC’s proposed rules are a wise and light-handed response that should appeal to those who truly have sought middle ground in this heated debate over network neutrality. The Internet was invented, developed and first commercialized in the United States in reliance on telecommunications laws that prohibited network level discrimination among end users and messages. While regulatory and court decisions from 2002-2005 eroded the clarity of those legal protections, the time has come for a new set of public interest protections.
“The Internet is too important to Americans’ educational opportunities and economic well-being, not to mention civic and social participation, to be determined solely by the profit motives of a handful of our largest private corporations with legacy telecommunications networks. We would hope all those who care about keeping the Internet open can agree that no government and no private entity should regulate the Internet itself.
“Adopting these rules now is important as the industry sits at a critical juncture. Recent industry consolidation and greater impending vertical integration between internet access providers and big media conglomerates at a time when network operators are adopting new technologies enabling them to inspect, prioritize and monetize Internet transmissions, is a recipe for wholesale discrimination, privacy invasion and a reduction in affordable customer choices.
“The rules the FCC is proposing provide greater clarity for Internet Access Providers as they make decisions about how to manage Internet traffic. The rules also establish users’ rights to access the public Internet on fair and reasonable terms and conditions that are adequately disclosed.
A study by Ingenious Consulting Network of the UK, sponsored by CCIA and appended to its comments, surveyed regulatory approaches to Internet access in other industrialized countries in the OECD and around the world. The study demonstrates that the United States is now considering the mildest form of market regulation available to preserve open Internet access.