FCC Chairman Proposes Rule Regarding Free Speech On The Internet

December 1, 2010 12:00 am

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Rule Is A Good Start, But Does Not Go Far Enough To Promote Net Neutrality, Says ACLU

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WASHINGTON – Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski today proposed a new rule spelling out network neutrality principles and clarifying the legal authority of the FCC to enforce them. While the proposed rule is a good start toward protecting Internet openness, it does not go far enough to protect free speech for certain communications systems. Network neutrality principles, in general, are designed to protect free speech online by prohibiting the owner of a network from discriminating against information by halting, slowing or otherwise tampering with the transfer of any data. The FCC is set to discuss net neutrality at a meeting on December 21.

Chairman Genachowski’s proposed rule lays out a framework that calls for full net neutrality protections for the wired Internet but provides lesser protections for wireless service and allows Internet service providers to charge customers varying rates for different services. The proposed rule would not reclassify broadband service providers as telecommunications services, which would have allowed the FCC to rely on its broader regulatory authority under Title II of the Communications Act. The American Civil Liberties Union supports network neutrality protections as an important safeguard for free speech on the Internet.

The following can be attributed to Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“Today’s proposed rule is a good start toward protecting Internet openness, but it doesn’t go far enough. The rule must be strengthened over the next three weeks in several areas, including to providing fuller protection for the wireless Internet. We are disappointed that the chairman’s proposed rule does not expand the FCC’s telephone regulatory powers to govern the Internet because that would provide the strongest basis not only for a network neutrality rule but also to protect consumers, adopt privacy protections and expand universal service to the Internet.

“Wireless is the future of the Internet and is already embraced by millions of Americans. It’s absolutely crucial that the FCC work to maintain network neutrality and prevent large telecommunications companies from manipulating or interfering with the public’s access to information online.”

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