Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 12/ 1/2010

FCC chair's net neutrality push faces uphill battle

By Cecilia Kang

update 2:52 p.m.: Congressman Fred Upton (R-Mi.) warns of FCC hearings; Commissioner Mignon Clyburn expresses support of net neutrality but leaves questions of support for current proposal. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) criticizes paid priority

A controversial net neutrality proposal drew immediate criticism by Republican members of the Federal Communications Commission and tempered support by Democratic allies, highlighting the difficulty Chairman Julius Genachowski will have forming new rules.

The two Republican members of the Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that they opposed Genachowski's "reckless" proposal that the agency has dubious ability to enact.

They were joined by Republican lawmakers who promised to call Genachowski to Capitol Hill when they take over the House majority in January for hearings on the proposal.

"I"m going to be like a dog on a Frisbee with this one," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mi.) in a conference call with reporters. The lawmaker is seeking the chairmanship of the Commerce and Energy Committee.

Democratic FCC member Michael Copps, meanwhile, said the proposal was a start and indicated that he would work with companies, consumers and interest groups in coming weeks to ensure "real network neutrality."

He and Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn have been staunch supporters of creating net neutrality rules and reasserting the FCC's authority as a broadband regulator. A proposal to define broadband as a telecom service wasn't included in Genachowski's proposal. And supporters of net neutrality such as Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said the proposal doesn't go far enough to regulate wireless providers and the practice of businesses paying for priority for better delivery of their content.

"It's no secret that I am looking for the strongest protections we can get to preserve an Open Internet, built on the most secure legal foundations so we don't find ourselves in court every other month," Copps said in a statement. His office didn't respond to questions of whether he would vote in favor of Genachowski's proposal as introduced Wednesday.

Clyburn's said in a release that she supports net neutrality and thinks "it is appropriate for the FCC to safeguard it" with "clear rules of road." But she stressed it is a draft of rules that will be discussed by the five commissioners over the next three weeks.

The cautious support of Genachowski's proposal -- which he touts as a compromise of various industry and consumer interests -- signals work ahead for the head of the agency to convince his Democratic allies to give him the support he needs for a majority of votes.

Genachowski drew more pointed feedback from Republicans.

Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker issued comments as Genachowski delivered a speech on his proposal, saying the move has been criticized strongly by members of both parties in Congress. With a Republican-led House, the plan will likely be challenged, they and analysts said.

"This is a mistake," Baker said. "We do not have authority to act."

Genochowski proposed rules that include requiring transparency from broadband providers; prohibiting the blocking of lawful content, apps, services, and the connection of non-harmful devices to the network; barring "unreasonable discrimination" in transmitting lawful network traffic; and other rules. The chairman also said the FCC "would closely monitor the development of the mobile broadband market and be prepared to step in to further address anti-competitive or anti-consumer conduct as appropriate."

Genachowski's proposal stands on shaky ground because the chairman wants to try to create rules while the agency has questionable status over broadband access providers. A federal court threw the FCC's authority into question last spring when it said the agency should not have acted to sanction Comcast for blocking traffic on its network.

"Whether the Internet should be regulated is a decision best left to the directly elected representatives of the American people," Baker said.

McDowell said in a statement that Genachowski's months-long attempt to get broadband providers and Web giants such as Google and Skype to agree on a regulatory compromise resulted in a plan that "smacks more of coercion than consensus or compromise."

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and investor Ron Conway hailed Genachowski's policy Wednesday. But the proposal also drew criticism from lawmakers such as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, who advised Genachowski to "stand down" on his push.

"I have not seen any evidence to date that would justify this regulatory overreach," she said.

Related stories:

FCC Chair announces net neutrality push but without asserting authority over broadband

Speech by FCC chair on net neutrality

By Cecilia Kang  | December 1, 2010; 11:14 AM ET
Categories:  FCC, Net Neutrality  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: FTC recommends 'Do Not Track' program in Internet privacy report
Next: Verizon got a $1.5 billion credit boost from Federal Reserve

Comments

"as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, who advised Genachowski to "stand down" on his push.

"I have not seen any evidence to date that would justify this regualtory overreach," she said."

Well how about this for consideration Ms. Hutchinson? Total innaction by the Legislature to address this issue over the last several years. When you fail to act, and another agency does, it hardly seems appropriate to be critical about someone taking action. The internet is communications, even if you don't believe it is.

Posted by: murrayh | December 1, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"I have not seen any evidence to date that would justify this regualtory overreach," she said."
How about the latest action from COMCAST about Netflex, and that is just the beginning.

Posted by: tqmek1 | December 1, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. Note that this article purports to be about the Republican Commissioners' objections to onerous regulation of the Net, but in fact gives more ink to the opinions of the Democrats, with whom Cecilia Kang - Google's Reporter and Network Neutrality Lobbyist at the Post - sympathizes thanks to her unethical bias toward the interest of advertiser Google.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | December 1, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@murrayh:

Congress is not just "another agency" - they are the legislature who delegates specific authority to executive or regulatory agencies. If they do not act, that agency does not gain authority solely because of the power vacuum.

Posted by: keepandbear | December 1, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

the republican party have become more like the the soviet system of domination by the few in power they don't want fair or correct they want power at the expense of the economy and personal liberties. They want to try and dominate by money instead of truth and what is good for the majority of people .. kings or communist either weigh not Americans anymore.

Posted by: artistkvip1 | December 1, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Funny artistkvip1

But the Democrats are the soviet union that endorse and condone communism - the regulation and state ownership of commerce and industry.

Maybe you should take a political science course before making such glaringly wrong/humorous comment again.

Net neutrality sounds good but what it does is unfairly give access/bandwidth to those that politicians favorite. If comcast wants to shut out netflix - then it will see its costumer base drop dramatically. Supply and demand dictate the best service and not the government who will inevitably cost us money and screw things up ( as they usually do).

Posted by: jabberwolff | December 1, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Funny artistkvip1

But the Democrats are the soviet union that endorse and condone communism - the regulation and state ownership of commerce and industry.

Maybe you should take a political science course before making such glaringly wrong/humorous comment again.

Net neutrality sounds good but what it does is unfairly give access/bandwidth to those that politicians favorite. If comcast wants to shut out netflix - then it will see its costumer base drop dramatically. Supply and demand dictate the best service and not the government who will inevitably cost us money and screw things up ( as they usually do).

Posted by: jabberwolff | December 1, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Propaganda is already legal here in the US. Just turn on "FOX" news!
Now these same folks want to control the internet!
It's all about money!
The Republican party doesn't care about Americans, unless they can control their hearts and especially their MINDS!

Posted by: stinkydog1 | December 1, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

reply to jabberwolff

"Net neutrality sounds good but what it does is unfairly give access/bandwidth to those that politicians favorite. If comcast wants to shut out netflix - then it will see its costumer base drop dramatically."

I'm not sure you get that the majority of us not in the major metropolitan areas do not have options on cable. The only cable provider I have in my area is Comcast, so no matter what horrible behavior they commit, I don't have a different "brand" to buy. It isn't like buying cereal.

As I understand the situation, Comcast knows I use them for access and they want to squeeze the content makers under the false allegation that they will use up too much of their bandwidth. Well, as I purchase the access through Comcast, it would seem that they should charge me if I use too much bandwidth, not try to squeeze the content makers that I want to access, or block my ability to get content I want.

We will be held hostage and have our options limited by them as they try to squeeze out my ability to do something other than watch their cable channels. Just like they hold certain channels hostage, making you buy the "super deluxe" package to get them instead of letting you pick the channels you want.

Or like the gov regulators, car manufacturers, and oil industry's unholy alliance to prevent fuel efficient cars to hit the market to prevent a drop the dependence on gasoline:

"Chrysler is careful about its claims for the future. It is uncomfortably aware of what a major shift to gas-turbine engines [which didn't require oil-based gasoline to run] would do to the auto industry's vast investment in the piston engine and to the oil industry's stake in high-octane fuels, is also mindful of difficulties yet unforeseen in widespread use of evidence that the public is willing to give the new engine a try."
Time, May 10, 1963, page 90.

That car was popular with the people who were given the prototypes, the engine had 1/5 of the moveable parts, and it could run on any combustible fuel such as gasoline or kerosene, or brandy for that matter. Now why didn't we see these revolutionary vehicles on the market...ah, yes, because the "don't rock the boat" government officials who just let the corporations do what they will and keep us locked into limited choices.

Different mechanism, same agenda!

Posted by: call0105 | December 1, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

We can easily see the day when the Washington Post will not be available on the Internet because the Wall Street Journal has paid for premium access and downloading for the Washington Post is not affordable anymore, or happens only in the middle of the night.

Posted by: funfun881 | December 1, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

We don't need more Government regulation. We need to look at the way each company uses broadband. Netflix is taking up a lot of bandwidth, so go accordingly, but do you want to pay more per month to use the internet? I don't! I don't use a lot of bandwidth, but have to check emails from time to time, and other types of information. Get rid of the porn, and you'll have plenty of room on the internet for other things. Marriages will be more stable also! Men will start looking at their wives again.

Posted by: caroln314 | December 1, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I explain it to folks like this:

Network Neutrality is about double-billing. If company A has a customer B who
pays A for a particular service, company C should not be able to pay
company A to meaningfully change the character of B's service. Such a
pay-to-play interference in A's contract with B is unfair to customer
B at a very fundamental level.

Yet that's what some of the ISPs are saying: they want to charge both Joe Blow AND Netflix when Joe watches a movie. And if Netflix pays while Hulu doesn't then there just won't be enough bandwidth for Joe to watch Hulu even if Hulu agrees to give the ISP its packets to the ISP's customer Joe for free.

That's wrong. And it should probably be illegal.

Posted by: Bill64738 | December 1, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

@keepandbear

I certainly understand Congress is charged with creating legislation necessary under its Consitutional Obligations.

However, the precedents they have set (allowing the Executive Branch to proceed without a declaration of war, allowing the NSA/HSA to conduct their warrantless activities without legislative authorization, etc) can certainly be applied to other organizations. Again, we aren't talking about a gross overreach here, the FCC isn't trying to regulate air freshner, cultery or potatoes. They are extending the reach of their communications mandate into the internet, since internet is all about communications these days. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Congress pass Net Neutrality legislation, but since they won't take it up, the FCC needs to fill the void.

Posted by: murrayh | December 1, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Once again this is business as usual from the regressive anarchists.

Have these idiots ever thought of anything other than partisan politics? From Reagan through McConnell/Boehner these people have waged a relentless war against American society, social growth and real freedom. Their whole philosophy is about denial - denying Americans the freedom to be Americans.

If this country had been founded on conservative values we would still be English subjects with no rights at all.

Posted by: BigTrees | December 1, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

God, can you liberals control your bedwetting for two seconds???

Realistically, libs have some good ideas and conservs have some good ideas. And Demos and Repubs are basically two sides of the same idiot coin.

But I see far more pathetic hand wringing and whining for one's moma's tit from liberals...

Get a fing grip, liberals...

Posted by: LP6546 | December 1, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

"We don't need more Government regulation. We need to look at the way each company uses broadband. Netflix is taking up a lot of bandwidth, so go accordingly, but do you want to pay more per month to use the internet? I don't! I don't use a lot of bandwidth, but have to check emails from time to time, and other types of information. Get rid of the porn, and you'll have plenty of room on the internet for other things. Marriages will be more stable also! Men will start looking at their wives again."

Posted by: caroln314 | December 1, 2010 3:14 PM

ROFL! Excellent trolling! Concise nonsense that immediately activated a reaction of hilarity from the reader.

8/10

Posted by: darth_maul25 | December 1, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

jabberwolff:
"Net neutrality sounds good but what it does is unfairly give access/bandwidth to those that politicians favorite."

What? That's exactly the opposite of reality.

Posted by: presto668 | December 1, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Congress has already weighed in with its understanding of the Internet: "It is a series of pipes." Therefore it or some executive branch agency will grant rights to give priority access to the Internet in accordance with the desires of those who run the likes of Comcast. If Comcast can deliver video on demand to your home computer, but only when you pay extra for priority access to the Internet for the duration of the feed, then Comcast benefits from its exclusive control over what has been effectively in the Public Domain. Radio Frequency spectrum space is licensed to broadcasters for use in the public interest and for private profit. Quite a conflict you got there. Internet access is equitably apportioned now. In the future, conservatives will grant the right of Comcast, et al., to profit from impeding Internet access to the lower class of Internet users. Billions to the billionaires and not one red cent to the poor.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | December 1, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

"Congressman Fred Upton (R-Fla.) warns of FCC hearings; Commissioner Mignon Clyburn expresses support of net neutrality but leaves questions of support for current proposal"

"I'm going to be like a dog on a Frisbee with this one," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mi.) in a conference call with reporters.

So, is Rep. Upton from Florida or from Michigan?

Posted by: pepperjade | December 1, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

dear ms kang,
i groan every time i read one of your blogs and cannot help but think what an unabashed "cheerleader" you have been for dropping net neutrality. just about every piece you have written has parroted the corporate line or been unnecessarily negative about net neutrality. how many free lunches have you eaten on their dime? net neutrality or a reasonably good version of it will pass with or without your approval.

Posted by: getjiggly2 | December 2, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Comcast and other Broadband providers should not be allowed to continue their abuse. Comcast should not be permitted to purchase NBC that will create more abuse. As a previous owner of an ISP and competitor to Comcast, we could not purchase advertising on Comcast Cable for our services, they would not sell ad time to competitors. As a current customer of Comcast their service is really sub par, but then I only have a choice between Comcast and AT&T, not a great choice. Internet speeds sometimes slower than dial-up. Letting just a few companies CONTROL the Internet and other media was a bad idea in the first place. The FCC needs to fix the mess that they created, by deregulating, in the first place. The FCC chairman that deregulated things and started the mess is now co-chair for Broadband for America (really a joke)go look at their members and you will see ALL the big cable and Telco players along with a bunch of false groups and companies. Guess he got PAID for his services as FCC chairman and it wasn't by the taxpayers.

Posted by: rfceo | December 3, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Net neutrality is an answer in search of a problem. For all of you people pushing it, let me ask you a question: Netflix already sometimes accounts for 20% of traffic on the Internet. Add in services such as Vudu, Amazon on Demand, and others, and you can see the traffic for people streaming media reaching over 50%. As it approaches that and more, what are service providers supposed to do? Eventually the infrastructure will be overwhelmed and everything would grind to a halt. Do you REALLY want that to occur? And without service providers have a reveune stream to fund expansion of server farms and such, it will stay gummed up. Money must flow to those who provide services. Asking them to not charge more for getting more is like asking the power company to provide power without running wires. Can't be done. At least not economically. Look, I hate cable companies as much as anyone, but if you want services, you have to PAY for them. TANSTAAFL.

Posted by: moonwatcher2001 | December 3, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"...I don't use a lot of bandwidth, but have to check emails from time to time, and other types of information. Get rid of the porn, and you'll have plenty of room on the internet for other things. Marriages will be more stable also! Men will start looking at their wives again.

Posted by: caroln314 | December 1, 2010 3:14 PM"
-----------------
The Adult Entertainment Industry, whether you like them or not, have been the pioneers of all the things we currently enjoy about the Internet (e-commerce, streaming video, etc.).

Sorry about your husband, Caroln314... But if you take away that content from the Internet, he'll just go to a strip club.

Posted by: jgmann | December 3, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Netflix users should not cripple the internet. I don't subscribe to Netflix. I don't watch any streaming media online, yet around dinner time my internet access slows down markedly. There should be a minimal internet speed available for a low rate. Those who wish to use more bandwidth should pay more and the excess fees should go toward the federal government to pay down the deficit. A win-win for everyone involved.

Posted by: alexthedogman | December 3, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

We need an reliable, afforable high speed option for our homes and business that cannot have DSL or Cable hookups because of location. This should be done with net neutrality because if you dont have a choice your business site could be put on hold while companies with better "connections " get the fast lane. They will put you out of business. In fact thats why I cant get High speed here now, because the company that owns the lines wont put in DSL and I have to get by with a lousy 26.4kb hookup. This needs to change if we are to compete in the global market. We should get all homes and businesses hooked up before we worry about watching movies on cell phones.

Posted by: jimbobkalina1 | December 5, 2010 2:54 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company