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 Expresses Concern Over Florida Proposal to Regulate Internet Content Sites

Washington – This week Florida legislators are considering proposals that could undermine core principles that have helped keep the Internet open and free.  They would force website owners and operators to publicly display their name, address, and telephone number or e-mail address if they make available commercial recordings or audiovisual works, and failure to do…

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Evolution of Open Internet to 2015 Success

Seven or eight years ago, the most active companies in the first Open Internet Coalition were Amazon, eBay, Google and Skype. Twitter was barely a twinkle and I don’t know how I really lived without Pandora. Courts threw out both consensus FCC principles around Internet access rights and its 2010 open Internet rules.   But failure…

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CCIA, Stakeholders Praise European Parliament’s Resolution Supporting the Internet Governance Forum and Online Freedoms

Brussels/Strasbourg — As the Internet faces threats from some regimes, which seek curb online freedoms and more governmental control, the European Parliament has today issued an important resolution in support of the open Internet, online rights, and an extension of the Internet Governance Forum’s mandate. A broad coalition of civil society and the Internet industry in Europe…

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House, Senate Hold Open Internet Hearings

Washington — Open Internet supporters told House Energy and Commerce Committee members today they are concerned that draft legislation would block the FCC’s ability to protect consumers’ access to an open Internet. Congress long ago created the FCC as an expert agency to protect all Americans’ access to communications by wire and radio — regardless…

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