FCC Approves Flawed Net Neutrality Rule

December 21, 2010

New Rule Fails To Protect Wireless Broadband Users, Says ACLU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org
 
WASHINGTON – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today passed a new rule clarifying the legal authority of the FCC to enforce network neutrality principles. Network neutrality principles protect free speech online by prohibiting the owner of a network from prioritizing some content on the Internet while slowing other content.

The rule approved today by the FCC includes full network neutrality protections for the wired Internet, which includes cable and DSL service to homes and businesses, but provides lesser protections for wireless broadband service and may allow wireless broadband providers to block certain applications and services that compete with their own applications and services. The American Civil Liberties Union has called for network neutrality protections on both the wired and wireless Internet as important safeguards for free speech.
 
"Network neutrality principles are essential to protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans who rely on the Internet as a forum for free speech. While the new FCC rule creates stronger network neutrality protections for Americans who use the wired Internet, it fails to provide adequate protections for Americans who rely on wireless broadband service," said Chris Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "By creating two sets of regulations – one for the wired Internet and one for wireless broadband – and failing to ground them in the strongest legal protections available, the FCC has failed to protect free speech and Internet openness for all users. The ACLU will continue to fight for full network neutrality protections. Internet openness is key to protecting our First Amendment rights."

The rule passed by the FCC today does not reclassify wireless broadband service as a telecommunications service, which the ACLU and other proponents of network neutrality have long urged. Treating broadband access as similar to phone service would have allowed the FCC to rely on its broader regulatory authority under Title II of the Communications Act to enforce network neutrality principles.

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