Washington D.C. -- Today, the Federal Communications Commission adopted an order defining rules to protect the open Internet. The following can be attributed to Sascha Meinrath, Director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative:
"Internet freedom is predicated on this vital communications medium remaining an open medium for free speech, a vibrant marketplace for ideas and innovation, and an engine for economic and job growth; however, today's ruling by the FCC puts all of this in doubt. Despite promising to fulfill President Obama's campaign promise of enacting Network Neutrality rules to protect an open Internet, the FCC has instead prioritized the profits of corporations like AT&T over those of the general public, Internet entrepreneurs, and local businesses across the country. Although we commend the efforts of Commissioner Copps and Clyburn to strengthen the Chairman's initial proposal, the rules they voted for are woefully inadequate for protecting the open Internet and for first time explicitly permit providers to discriminate against Internet content and applications. These failures place the Internet in peril of evolving into a system that will more and more resemble another cable network rather than an open Internet.
1. The order does not prohibit 'paid prioritization' and will allow broadband providers to set up a toll road for the largest Internet content and application companies to pay for prioritized access to consumers on the network.
2. The order allows broadband providers to offer 'specialized or managed services' to undermine the open Internet and would legally permit broadband providers to create a fast lane for their own preferred content, applications and services, while degrading the quality of service of other Internet content and application providers.
3. The rule would create two Internets -- a wireline version and a wireless version -- by legally protecting wireless providers who block consumers' access to lawful applications, content and devices. Consumers that rely on mobile connectivity, many of whom are low-income, rural, and people of color, will get a different version of the web, defined and dictated by their mobile provider.
4. The order's definition of broadband Internet access service is so full of exemptions and loopholes that it will allow providers to potentially circumvent or exempt themselves from open Internet rules, simply by selling consumer's access to their narrow list of popular websites or applications and calling it something different from high-speed broadband.
5. The order does not provide a sound legal basis for the rules and is highly susceptible to a court challenge; once again putting the Internet at risk of no oversight or protections for consumers and innovators.
Today, the Chairman provided a great victory for the largest telecommunication and cable corporations and a sound defeat for those working to support free speech, innovation and the economic vibrancy of an open Internet. Actions speak louder than words, and with this order, the FCC and the Obama administration have made it clear that they are taking their direction from corporate lobbyists and ignoring the best interests of the people they purport to serve."
About the Open Technology Initiative
The New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative formulates policy and regulatory reforms to support open architectures and open source innovations and facilitates the development and implementation of open technologies and communications networks. For more information, visit, http://oti.newamerica.net/.
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