FCC Chair Holds Swing Vote On Net Neutrality
Julius Genachowski will make public this month his decision whether or not to favor broadband as a common carrier service.
A report that Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski is leaning toward keeping in place regulations that would weaken net neutrality measures has drawn quick response by groups on both sides of the issue.
"We simply cannot believe that Julius Genachowski would consider going down this path," said Free Press executive director Josh Silver in a statement Monday. "Failing to reclassify broadband means the FCC is abandoning the signature communications and technology issues of the Obama administration. Such a decision would destroy Net Neutrality."
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On the other side of the issue, Randolph J. May of the Free State Foundation said that if the FCC wants to bring regulation to the Internet, it should "work with Congress to amend the Communications Act to give the Commission circumscribed authority to adjudicate complaints alleging that ISPs possessing market power have engaged in practices that cause consumer harm."
The comments were made after a Washington Post report said "three sources" in the FCC had said Genachowski is not inclined to define broadband as a common carrier service. Such a position would free major carriers from much of the regulations they currently must follow as common carriers, and would favor broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon over Web services like Google and Skype.
Genachowski hasn’t made a decision public yet, but he clearly didn't like the ruling last month of the Washington D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with carriers when it said FCC sanctions against Comcast for blocking Bit Torrent traffic were improper. At a Seattle meeting last week, Genachowski said the decision was "an unfortunate development. But it has done nothing to weaken my unwavering commitment to ensuring that the free and open Internet is preserved and protected."
The FCC has submitted a sweeping and comprehensive National Broadband Plan to Congress, which could adopt measures to improve delivery of broadband to Americans. Noting that the United States is falling behind several other nations in broadband delivery to its citizens, Genachowski and public interest groups have argued for regulations that would beef up broadband delivery.
Another option would be for the FCC to favor a move from Title I to Title II of communications regulations that would give the FCC more control over carriers. Public interest groups, Google, and Skype, among others, favor the move to Title II while carriers favor keeping Title I.
Genachowski represents the swing vote on the five-member FCC, and he is expected to make public his decision on the issue by the end of the month.
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