More than 80 grassroots organizations, consumer groups, civil rights organizations, innovative businesses, technology experts and public interest advocates filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission on Friday, signaling broad support for strong Network Neutrality rules. The letter highlighted five key areas in which rules proposed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski must be improved to protect the free and open Internet. The Commission is slated to vote on Net Neutrality on Dec. 21.
The signers include Free Press, New America Foundation, Media Access Project, Reporters without Borders, Daily Kos, Common Cause, Entertainment Consumers Association, Nonprofit Technology Network, ColorofChange.org, Center for Media Justice, National Hispanic Media Coalition and Public Knowledge.
"A tremendously diverse array of organizations and constituencies have come together to tell the FCC that we want real consumer protections and Internet Freedom," said Sascha Meinrath, director of New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative. "This is a make-or-break issue, and the signatories on this letter are unequivocal in their demand that fatal flaws with Chairman Genachowski's draft proposal be fixed immediately."
The letter filed today outlines the key elements of real Net Neutrality apparently missing from the FCC’s proposal, and calls on the Commission to make sure each is included.
Real Net Neutrality, the groups say, must include a ban on paid prioritization, which would allow Internet service providers to speed up their preferred content and services while slowing down the rest; extending protections to wireless networks so mobile broadband providers cannot act as gatekeepers on the mobile Web; no loopholes in key language that would allow providers to exempt themselves from rules; and clear rules for “specialized services” that would prevent a pay-for-play platform that could stifle innovation and threaten the Internet’s level playing field.
“There are several fatal flaws with Chairman Genachowski's reported draft proposal that will harm the open Internet in irreversible ways if they are not addressed by the time the agency votes on a rule,” said Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner. “If this proposal is adopted as is, the FCC will send a signal to the market that free speech and innovation on the Web require the permission of Comcast and AT&T."
The letter also asserts that rules must be built on a sound legal foundation and calls on the agency to restore its authority over broadband by reclassifying it under Title II of the Communications Act.
“Some proponents of the proposed rules urge us not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” said Tyrone Brown, president of Media Access Project. “But reports on the contents of the item indicate that it is far from good at this point. Those ready to accept the rules ‘as-is’ fail to recognize that incomplete protections founded on unsure legal grounds cannot be characterized as a good start. Open Internet rules and the Commission's ability to implement national broadband policy goals should be based in sound legal authority and provide real protections for free expression and innovation online.”
Click here to view a copy of the letter and a full list of signers.]]>