FCC to regulate net neutrality

* Intends to codify six principles that will apply to all platforms for broadband Internet access

The U. S. Federal Communications Commission has announced that it will move beyond principles and policy statements to formally regulate net neutrality. The process will begin with requests for public comments on six principles the FCC intends to codify; comments are due on Jan. 14, 2010, while reply comments are due on March 5, 2010. The formal notice affirms six principles the FCC proposes to codify, which would "apply to all platforms for broadband Internet access, including mobile wireless broadband."

Under the draft proposed rules, subject to reasonable network management, broadband Internet access service providers would not be allowed to:

* Prevent its users from sending or receiving the lawful content of the user's choice over the Internet.

* Prevent its users from running the lawful applications or using the lawful services of the user's choice.

* Prevent its users from connecting to and using on its network the user's choice of lawful devices that do not harm the network.

* Deprive its users entitlement to competition among network providers, application providers, service providers and content providers.

In addition, broadband Internet access service providers would be required to:

* Treat lawful content, applications and services in a nondiscriminatory manner.

* Disclose reasonably required information about network management and other practices so users and providers can enjoy the specified protections.

The FCC also said that providers would "be permitted to address harmful traffic and traffic unwanted by users, such as spam, and prevent both the transfer of unlawful content, such as child pornography, and the unlawful transfer of content, such as a transfer that would infringe copyright." It also emphasized that nothing in the draft rules would supersede any laws or rules that require providers to deliver emergency communications and address the needs of public safety authorities.

The full text of the FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was released on Oct. 22, 2009, and can be found on the FCC Web site here.

Next time we'll weigh in with our opinions on the proposed net neutrality rules.

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