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FCC chairman formally proposes net neutrality rules

Nilay Patel
09.21.09
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We knew it was going to happen, but we're still stoked to report that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski formally proposed a set of net neutrality rules this morning, calling them "the fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the internet." There are two big new rules, which say broadband providers of any kind can't discriminate against content or applications, and must be transparent about their network management policies -- a big change for wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T, who would have to open their networks to scrutiny, and a direct response to Comcast's secretive packet-filtering techniques. What's more, Genachowski also proposed that four existing agency policies be granted formal rule status, meaning network operators would be required to allow users to access the content, apps, and services of their choice, and they would also be required to allow any "non-harmful" devices to connect to their networks. We knew all that open-access hullabaloo was leading up to something good.

All told, these are some big policy changes, and while we're excited that the FCC is this gung-ho about net neutrality -- seriously, Genachowski comes off as the best kind of fanboy in his followup HuffPo editorial, it's kind of awesome -- we're still only cautiously optimistic, since the rulemaking process has only just begun and there are some potentially huge loopholes for network management and prevention of copyright infringement. But those are details to be worked out -- for now, the real news is that net neutrality is on its way to becoming the law of the land, and that's enough to warm even our darkened robot hearts. Check a video of Jules after the break.

Read - Genachowski's speech proposing net neutrality rules
Read - Genachowski's Huffington Post followup editorial
Read - The FCC's new openinternet.gov website
Read - WSJ piece with industry reactions


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