EFF to public: Urge the FCC to close 'Net neutrality 'loophole'

Watchdog group soliciting signatures during comment period

The Electronic Frontier Foundation this morning is issuing a call to arms regarding what it calls a "loophole" in 'Net neutrality regulations being proposed by the Federal Communications Commission.

Today marks the FCC's deadline for initial public comment on that proposal.

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The organization has established a special Web page -- Real Net Neutrality -- designed to collect signatures on a letter urging the FCC to reconsider and eliminate language that would require ISPs "to act as copyright cops."

An EFF e-mail received here reads:

Tell the FCC: Don't let Hollywood hijack the Internet

Last fall, the Federal Communications Commission proposed rules for "Net Neutrality" - a set of regulations intended to help innovation and free speech continue to thrive on the Internet.

Buried in the FCC's rules is a deeply problematic loophole. Open Internet principles, the FCC writes, "do not ... apply to activities such as the unlawful distribution of copyrighted works."

For years, the entertainment industry has used that innocent-sounding phrase - "unlawful distribution of copyrighted works" - to pressure Internet service providers around the world to act as copyright cops - to surveil the Internet for supposed copyright violations, and then censor or punish the accused users.

From the beginning, a central goal of the Net Neutrality movement has been to prevent corporations from interfering with the Internet in this way - so why does the FCC's version of Net Neutrality specifically allow them to do so?

Should you agree with EFF's position and want your voice to be heard, here's the content of the letter you'll be asked to sign:

To the Federal Communications Commission: Your October 22, 2009, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks to create an exception from network neutrality and open Internet principles to allow ISPs to block or filter content which they suspect might be copyright-infringing. I believe this exception would be damaging to lawful fair use, free speech and innovation on the Internet, and that it should be removed.

EFF's full comments to the FCC can be read here.

If you're itching to read the actual FCC document, you can find it here.

The FCC will be accepting initial comments on the proposed regulations through today and replies to those comments until March 5.

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