September 29, 2011
FCC Sued Over New Net Neutrality Rules
A suit was filed in Boston federal court yesterday challenging newly enacted net neutrality rules by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which were published in the Federal Register last week, opening the door to lawsuits, Reuters is reporting.
Net neutrality, agreed to in December of last year, is the concept that everyone should have equal access to the web. Amazon, for example, should not be able to pay to have its web site load faster than a mom-and-pop e-commerce site.
The FCC decided to craft rules after Comcast was accused of blocking peer-to-peer sites that would ban ISPs from discriminating based on content. It was acceptable to slow down your entire network during peak times, for example, but you couldn´t block a particular site that was frowned upon by service providers, such as BitTorrent.
The rules approved by the FCC give the commission the authority to step into disputes about how ISPs are managing their networks or initiate their own investigations if they think ISPs are violating its rules, PC Magazine reports.
The FCC also ruled that providers must disclose their network management practices, network performance, characteristics, and the commercial terms of their broadband services. This will ensure that consumers and innovators have the information they need to understand the capabilities of broadband services.
The Massachusetts-based media reform group Free Press says it will challenge the, “arbitrary nature of rule provisions,” that offer less protection for mobile wireless internet access than for wired connections. “When the FCC first proposed the open internet rules, they came with the understanding that there is only one internet, no matter how people choose to reach it.”
“Our challenge will show that there is no evidence in the record to justify this arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet access. The disparity that the FCC´s rules create is unjust and unjustified,” Free Press´ Wood said.
“And it´s especially problematic because of the increasing popularity of wireless, along with its increasing importance for younger demographics and diverse populations who rely on mobile devices as their primary means for getting online.”
An FCC spokesperson replied in a statement, saying the commission´s rules have brought certainty and predictability and stimulated innovation and investment in broadband. “We will vigorously oppose any effort to disrupt or unsettle that certainty, which ensures that the internet remains an engine for job creation, innovation and economic growth.”
“The final rules provide some basic protections for consumers, but do not deliver on the promise to preserve openness for mobile internet access. They fail to protect wireless users from discrimination, and they let mobile providers block innovative applications with impunity.”
Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS Communications Inc., both cell service providers, sued the FCC over the new rules early this year, saying that agency lacks the authority to regulate internet traffic. An appeals court that said they were filed prematurely and threw the cases out at the time, however they could be refiled now that the rules have been published in the Federal Register, the Associated Press reports.
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