The Internet was originally built in the USA with a combination of federal government, private and university resources on a foundation of American innovation, openness and nondiscrimination.  To sustain its social and economic benefits, the Internet must remain open and free of commercial or government gatekeepers.  In 2002-05 the FCC deregulated the broadband Internet access services of cable TV and telephone companies by categorizing them as “information services” rather than telecommunications.

The consumer protections embodied in the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement, meant to substitute for regulation, proved unenforceable under a federal court decision involving Comcast, so in late 2010, the FCC after a lengthy proceeding involving voluminous input from diverse stakeholders, adopted the first open Internet rules which require broadband access providers (IAPs) (1) to clearly disclose all terms of services and network management practices that could affect quality of service; (2) to refrain from blocking any lawful content or applications; (3) not to unreasonably discriminate against any Internet traffic.  The FCC did not apply common carrier telecommunications regulation under Title II of the Communications Act, which it has the authority to do.  Verizon has challenged the rules in court, and oral arguments will take place in early 2013.  A large group of consumer advocates, state regulators and Internet industry groups including CCIA support the FCC rules before the court.  The largest Internet access providers argue that open Internet access rules are a government takeover of the Internet itself, but many other diverse parties argue they offer the absolute minimum protection necessary for households and small businesses against market power abuses by duopoly IAPs.

If the FCC open Internet rules are upheld by the Court, the agency will begin in earnest to enforce them though investigation of complaints such as the pending case involving AT&T’s FaceTime mobile application.   Another area ripe for FCC consideration is IAPs’ use of monthly data caps to favor their own affiliated video programming or cloud services, by making such services exempt from the volume restrictions and higher pricing tiers, while content from the public Internet will not be exempt.

If the FCC rules are struck down by the Court, various flavors of controversy will arise, ranging from renewed FCC consideration of its “third way” or “Title II lite” proposal to a full scale IAP Congressional lobbying campaign to re-write the Telecom Act of 1996 which they claim is antiquated.   CCIA supports the Telecom Act of 1996, which contains pro-competitive interconnection and access measures that should still apply to the critical underlying physical telecommunications network infrastructure upon which the Internet was built and still depends, even as technology has advanced and voice, data and video transmissions are now digital, and circuit switching is replaced with Internet protocol (IP) for everything online.

Most Recent Statements&Findings:

CCIA Files Comments In Response To FCC Net Neutrality Rules

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…

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CCIA Says Chinese Censorship Violates Trade Agreements

Chinese Internet users are expressing concern about Google’s announcement that it may shut down its website because of government censorship and recent cyber attacks. Such continued attacks and censorship are contrary to the fundamental operation of the Internet for many reasons, making this issue a concern to all Internet users. The Computer & Communications Industry…

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CCIA Praises Open Government Launch, Hopes It Brings More Transparency To ACTA Negotiations

Washington – Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra announced the launch of administration’s Open Government Plan in a live webcast today. The Internet provides unprecedented tools for openness and transparency in a democracy and the Computer & Communications Industry Association applauds President Obama’s commitment to provide citizens with more information…

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Carriers Try to Confuse Net Neutrality Issue

Since the FCC chairman’s announcement last week that he would work to enforce network neutrality principles, some large carriers initially questioned the need for regulatory action and are now trying tactics to distract from the real debate. The Computer & Communications Industry Association applauded Julius Genachowski’s announcement last week that he wanted the FCC to…

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