FCC Unimpressed by Comcast's "Network Managment"

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Listening to the FCC hearing today, which was called in response to Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic on its network, it seemed like Chairman Kevin Martin may be rethinking his laissez-faire stance on Network Neutrality. Martin said that network management practices should be “open and transparent” to the end user and that the FCC would be “willing and able” to intercede in cases of abuse.

Comcast CEO Executive VP David Cohen, who argued that the company wasn’t blocking anyone’s content, but was merely trying to manage its network during times of peak traffic, didn’t come off too well. In the wake of the event, it seems that some form of Net Neutrality legislation or regulation to halt discrimination (to use the terms bandied about during the hearing) would be in the future for ISPs. Whether it goes as far as an Internet Bill of Rights that gives users the “unalienable right to liberty on the Internet,” as proposed by Democratic Commissioner Jay Alderstein, or some form of case-by-case adjudication of discrimination claims, as offered by Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, is uncertain.

Given the anticompetitive nature of Comcast throttling traffic from a potential video competitor, Martin — who in the past has been loathe to go beyond the FCC’s current policy pushing open networks — and other Republican lawmakers seemed galvanized to act. Indeed, an attack on the free markets might be too much for the FCC to ignore.

17 Comments

Alice Lee

Here’s the problem: Comcast takes the same approach to public debate that it has to Internet access: that it can wield substantial political and market power to shut out debate and shut up people. For too long, communications policymaking has been rigged against us. We need to send a wakeup call to phone and cable giants and their powerful lobbyists that they will no longer set the agenda. Check out this new video we just released: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYGtNmmb2y0

The purpose of the Internet is to give power over information to everyone. The role of our elected leaders is to protect our basic right to communicate from those who want to take it away from us. Whether it’s on the Internet or at public hearings we must stand up for everyone’s right to connect.

Tim Street

I hope this gets worked out soon and that it all falls in favor of the little guys so that we all have a chance to keep chasing our dreams.

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