IDG News Service - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in a historic vote Tuesday, approved network neutrality rules prohibiting broadband providers from blocking customer access to legal Web content, but many consumer groups decried the new regulations as weak and full of loopholes.
The new rules provide fewer protections for mobile broadband subscribers and may lead to a fractured Internet, critics said. The new rules, a compromise championed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, would bar wireline-based broadband providers -- but not mobile broadband providers -- from "unreasonable discrimination" against Web traffic, prompting some consumer groups to call the rules "fake" net neutrality.
Genachowski's plan, approved after more than seven years of debate about whether net neutrality rules are needed, also contains several loopholes for broadband providers, critics said, including an exception for managed services separate from the public Internet.
But Genachowski defended the rules as "strong and balanced."
"As we stand here now, the freedom and openness of the Internet are unprotected," he said. "No rules on the books to protect basic Internet values. No process for monitoring Internet openness as technology and business models evolve. No recourse for innovators, consumers, or speakers harmed by improper practices. "And no predictability for Internet service providers, so that they can effectively manage and invest in broadband networks.
Critics on the other side of the net neutrality debate, including Commissioner Robert McDowell, ripped the action as unnecessary and legally dubious. The new order is an attempt to circumvent an April ruling by a U.S. appeals court striking down an FCC effort to enforce informal net neutrality principles, he said.
"This new effort will fail in court as well," McDowell said. The rules adopted Tuesday will be "tied up in courts for years," he predicted.
The National Journal reported Tuesday that Verizon Communications was mulling a lawsuit over the new rules. A Verizon spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.
McDowell argued that the Internet is working and that new regulations would hurt investment in broadband. The FCC's action will put the agency on a "collision course" with Congress, where about 300 lawmakers have raised concerns about net neutrality rules, McDowell said.
There have been "fewer than a handful" of examples of net neutrality violations in recent years, he added, and the FCC has resolved those cases in favor of consumers under current law. "Nothing is broken in the Internet access market that needs fixing," McDowell said.
Genachowski disagreed, saying Internet investors need consistent rules going forward.
"We are told by some ... not to try to fix what isn't broken, and that rules of the road protecting Internet freedom would discourage innovation and investment," he said. "We have heard from so many entrepreneurs, engineers, venture capitalists, CEOs and others working daily to invent and distribute new Internet products and thereby maintain U.S. leadership in innovation. Their message has been clear: the next decade of innovation in this sector is at risk without sensible rules of the road."
Net neutrality battle
- Net neutrality becomes a key battleground in encryption fight
- FCC swamped with last-minute comments on net neutrality
- Dems' plan would force FCC to ban Internet fast lanes
- How Tom Wheeler's FCC plan will wreck your Internet
- Inside the FCC's net neutrality notice
- FCC moves ahead with controversial net neutrality plan
- Net neutrality backers decide to 'occupy' the FCC
- Net neutrality advocates flood FCC Twitter chat
- Trade group, lawmaker question drive to classify broadband as a utility
- FCC chairman may revise his controversial plan on net neutrality
- SANS: Next-Generation Datacenters = Next-Generation Security This whitepaper takes a look at some new technology that may allow security teams to implement more flexible and capable protection models in...
- SANS: Protecting Virtual Endpoints with McAfee Server Security Suite Essentials SANS review of McAfees Server Security Suite Essentials that address some of the emerging challenges of securing virtual platforms and cloud environments.
- Safeguarding the Next-Generation Data Center Use of virtual and cloud servers has exploded. Unfortunately, security often lags behind. McAfee recommends looking at innovative solutions in order to erect...
- Aberdeen: Securing the Evolving Datacenter This report highlights ways security technologies and services are evolving to provide the visibility and control needed to deploy workloads flexibly in the...
- Is SQL Server AlwaysOn really as powerful? Tips and Tricks from the field With the introduction of AlwaysOn, Windows Clustering Services is now more critical than ever.
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center... All Gov't Legislation/Regulation White Papers | Webcasts