Groups push alternate net neutrality proposals
A U.S. Senate committee plans to take up the issue on Thursday
IDG News Service - In an effort to advance the net neutrality debate in the U.S. Congress, two groups have offered their own proposals to prohibit broadband providers from discriminating against competing Internet content, while allowing providers to separate parts of their networks for specialized products.
The civil liberties advocacy group Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and New Yorkers for Fair Use, whose members include business people and technology advocates, both released net neutrality proposals today, two days before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is set to debate the issue as part of a hearing to amend a wide-ranging communications bill.
The proposals differ in their approaches, but both would allow broadband providers such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. to separate part of their broadband pipes for services they or their partners offer. But on the public Internet, broadband providers would be required to treat all content equally.
The CDT wants a "narrowly tailored" set of net neutrality rules, even though large broadband providers have questioned the need for new regulations, said Leslie Harris, CDT's executive director. Broadband providers have said new rules aren't needed because there's no evidence of them blocking or impairing competing content, but a lack of broadband competition makes for a "significant risk" of that happening, Harris said.
If Congress fails now to pass a net neutrality law, it will be difficult to later force broadband providers to retroactively change their business plans if problems do occur, she said. "In our view, the Internet is too important -- the openness of the Internet, the democratic platform it creates, the economic engine it creates -- to take that level of risk," Harris added.
The CDT proposal, available online (download PDF), would require broadband providers to treat all Internet content and services equally. At the same time, the providers could experiment with private network services where they could make exclusive agreements with services such as broadband video, a practice that some net neutrality advocates object to.
The CDT plan would allow Congress to monitor the Internet for evidence of discriminatory treatment.
The second proposal, authored by Seth Johnson, a member of New Yorkers for Fair Use, would also allow providers to offer tiered services, but they would not be able to classify them as Internet services if they discriminate against competing content.
Broadband services that divide content being sent over the Internet would destroy the standards that are the foundation of the current Internet, Johnson said. If broadband providers can set their own transport standards, the Internet would stop being a public medium, he said.
Among those endorsing the Johnson proposal are David P. Reed, a contributor to the original Internet Protocol design; Miles R. Fidelman, president of The Center for Civic Networking; and Peter D. Junger, law professor emeritus at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Congress needs to clarify the meaning of Internet connectivity, the Johnson group said in an e-mail.
"In effect, under the present circumstances, the system of developing specifications, which involves the writing and review of formal documents known as RFCs, which has held since the beginning of the Internet, would be tossed out by a few large providers and equipment manufacturers and replaced by corporate fiat," the group said. "IP-layer neutrality is not a property of the Internet. It is the Internet."
- Improving IT Efficiencies: Four Advantages of Multi-Tenant Data Centers Increasing demands on IT are forcing organizations to rethink their data center options. For many organizations, that means turning to the flexibility afforded...
- Accelerating Cloud Deployment and Operations with Managed Services Companies that do not have sufficient in-house expertise to either deploy or maintain an IaaS cloud should turn to Managed Service Providers .
- Rethinking IT Operations in the Cloud This paper breaks down the challenges that often prevent the cloud from delivering the fast, flexible and affordable infrastructure companies seek - and...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, North America Cloud-enabled managed hosting brings cloudlike consumption and provisioning attributes to the traditional managed hosting market
- NSS Labs & Cisco Present: Evaluating Leading Breach Detection Systems Today's constantly evolving advanced malware and APTs can evade point-in-time defenses to penetrate networks. Security professionals must evolve their strategy in lockstep to...
- Will the Real Endpoint Threat Detection and Response Please Stand Up? This webinar explores new technologies & process for protecting endpoints from advanced attackers as well as the innovations that are pushing the envelope... All Gov't Legislation/Regulation White Papers | Webcasts