FCC to vote Tuesday on ‘net neutrality’ rules

December 21, 2010

By Doug Gross, CNN

(CNN) — The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote Tuesday on a set of regulations designed to ensure that internet providers grant everyone equal access to the Web.

The “net neutrality” rules, proposed by the Obama administration, would be the government’s biggest foray yet into one of the Web’s fiercest debates.

In announcing the proposed rules earlier this month, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said they would require high-speed internet providers to treat all types of Web content equally.

The rules would, in effect, keep the companies that own the internet’s real-world infrastructure from slowing down some types of websites or apps — say, those belonging to a competitor — or speeding up others from high-paying clients.

The commission’s agenda says the vote will address “basic rules of the road to preserve the open internet as a platform for innovation, investment, competition and free expression.”

If it passes, as it is expected to do, the plan will go before Congress for final approval. That isn’t expected to happen until the new Congress, elected in November, takes office next year.

Internet-freedom advocates have called the rules a step in the right direction but say they don’t go far enough.

For example, the proposal doesn’t set the same set of rules for mobile communications as it does for Web-based ones. And it wouldn’t let the government strictly regulate internet providers in the way some advocates would like.

In fact, the proposal is similar to one put forward earlier this year by Google and Verizon, two of the internet’s biggest stakeholders.

Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat and one of Congress’ most vocal net-neutrality advocates, calls the issue “the most important free-speech issue of our time.” In a column Monday for the Huffington Post, Franken said some of the current proposal’s language could actually weaken protections.

To read more, visit: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/web/12/20/fcc.net.neutrality/

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