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Argument: Net neutrality adds no new regs, only preserves Internet neutrality

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Supporting quotations

Doc Searls. "Net Neutrality vs. Net Neutering." Linux Journal. March 3, 2006: "Congress's policy of leaving the Internet unregulated has been a resounding success. The resulting network flexibility has encouraged billions of dollars in investment. Companies that include high speed Internet services among their offerings have the freedom to experiment with multiple business models, producing more choices and competition in content and providers for consumers, and more innovation than ever before."

Prof Lawrence Lessig said in a February 2006 Senate Commerce Committee's Net Neutrality hearings: "...this Committee must keep in view a fundamental fact about the Internet: as scholars and network theorists have extensively documented, the innovation and explosive growth of the Internet is directly linked to its particular architectural design. It was in large part because the network respected what Saltzer, Clark and Reed called "the 'end-to-end' principle" that the explosive growth of the Internet happened. If this Committee wants to preserve that growth and innovation, it should take steps to protect this fundamental design."[1]

"Net Neutrality is the Internet's First Amendment." Save the Internet on Opposing "Advocates of Net Neutrality are not promoting new regulations. We are attempting to restore tried and tested consumer protections and network operating principles that made the Internet a great engine for free speech and innovation. By passing Net Neutrality legislation we're restoring under law the open Internet's most fundamental principle."

"Net Neutrality is Simple, Conservative Consumer Protection." Public Knowledge on Opposing "Here’s Section 202 (a) of the Communications Act: “It shall be unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with like communication service, directly or indirectly, by any means or device, or to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or to subject any particular person, class of persons, or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.”

That was the law which governed our telecommunications system for decades and to some degree kept the telephone industry in line. The FCC lifted the rule for broadband in 2005 by a regulatory sleight-of-hand that moved broadband services out of the protection of Sec. 202, which created the regulatory purgatory in which we find ourselves today. The Commission instead proclaimed four policy principles, which they eventually enforced this year. More about those later.

In 2006, when AT&T took over BellSouth, the Commission imposed a two-year condition bringing the regulation into the Internet age. It was very simple: “AT&T/BellSouth also commits that it will maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service. This commitment shall be satisfied by AT&T/BellSouth's agreement not to provide or to sell to Internet content, application, or service providers, including those affiliated with AT&T/BellSouth, any service that privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet transmitted over AT&T/BellSouth's wireline broadband Internet access service based on its source, ownership or destination.”

That seems fairly simple and straightforward. It’s not “excessive regulation” of the Internet; it’s a traditional consumer protection measure well-grounded in law and practice. It is the least the government can do, as the recent Comcast case demonstrated. Comcast was caught throttling peer-to-peer traffic and lying about it under the guise of “network management.” Three members of the FCC, including Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, didn’t buy it. At the FCC’s Aug. 1 meeting, and in the subsequent Aug. 20 order, they found that Comcast had violated the open network principles the Commission put forward in September 2005, including the part about consumers were entitled “to run applications and use services of their choice,” and access the content of their choice. Despite the protestations of Comcast, the Commission found that, Comcast’s practices contravened Federal policy.

[...] That is not regulating the Internet. It is regulating the companies which provide access to the Internet – a traditional function that the FCC has largely abandoned to the detriment of the country."

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