Gentleman's Agreement between Industry Titans No Mission Accomplished for an Open Internet

The FCC Must Reject 21st Century Robber Baron Carve-up of the Internet
Published:   August 5, 2010

During the 19th century a handful of wealthy industrialists dominated steel, oil refining and railroads; striking agreements to receive favorable terms for the carriage of their goods, while subjecting farmers and competitors to unreasonable and excessive charges.

Now, over a century later, history is in danger of repeating itself. After weeks of closed-door meetings sanctioned by the Federal Communication Commission, two of the largest corporations in the communications industry have reportedly negotiated an agreement on network neutrality. Though details of the agreement are not available, its terms are immaterial. It should not be the policy of the FCC to allow the largest companies to write the regulations that will determine the future of the Internet.

"The FCC today is a regulatory purgatory where endless process is being substituted for clear leadership," stated Sascha Meinrath, Director of New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative. "It is remarkable that the Obama administration is abandoning its campaign promise to ensure an open Internet and is instead actively supporting a process where some of the largest companies in the country control the future of communications."

"Voluntary and non-binding agreements leave an open Internet to the whims of the largest Internet and communications companies, who have every incentive to create a market that prioritizes their own content and services, while limiting the potential of new start-ups, small businesses, and individual entrepreneurs," added Benjamin Lennett, Policy Analyst for the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative. "We cannot afford to follow the same 'leave it to the market' philosophy that has left our economy in shambles and contributed to the worst oil spill in U.S. history."

The following New America Foundation staff are available to discuss the latest news:

Sascha Meinrath, Research Director, Wireless Future Program; Director, Open Technology Initiative

Benjamin Lennett, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Technology Initiative

James Losey, Program Associate, Open Technology Initiative

Please contact Kate Brown with requests at 202-596-3365 or brown@newamerica.net.

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