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FCC passes new net neutrality rules; Franken says "inadequate" protection for consumers, internet
The Federal Communications Commission passed a set of rules Tuesday "to preserve basic Internet values," but advocates of net neutrality say the new rules do not go far enough. Sen. Al Franken called the measures "simply inadequate," while Republicans have vowed to push to repeal the new framework.
Under the new rules, telecommunications companies cannot discriminate in what internet content they allow to their customers to access. Net neutrality advocates have said that without a framework, large businesses could pay large telecommunications companies to direct internet traffic to their businesses without the consumer knowing that other websites had been skipped over, a practice known as paid prioritization.
Under the rules, telecoms can only manage their data in that manner if there is network congestion or spam, and they must disclose their policies should they plan to manage the data.
"The FCC's action today is simply inadequate to protect consumers or preserve the free and open Internet," Sen. Franken said in a statement following the FCC vote. "I am particularly disappointed to learn that the order will not specifically ban paid prioritization, allowing big companies to pay for a fast lane on the Internet and abandoning the foundation of net neutrality. The rule also contains almost no protections for mobile broadband service, remaining silent on the blocking of content, applications, and devices. Wireless technology is the future of the Internet, and for many rural Minnesotans, it's often the only choice for broadband."
Franken did give the commission some credit, however. "I'm particularly encouraged by the inclusion of language cautioning that the FCC's silence on certain kinds of discriminatory behavior by wireless carriers doesn't tacitly condone it. While this is far from adequate, it stops us from taking a step backward."
Hours after the vote, Republicans in Congress vowed to repeal the new FCC framework saying it could hurt profits for telecoms.
Franken: Net neutrality is the ‘most important free speech issue of our time’
Sen. Al Franken penned an editorial for the Huffington Post Monday that urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create rules regulating net neutrality from internet providers. The FCC is set to issue new proposed guidelines during a meeting Tuesday and early word is that the policy will institute rules sure to upset net neutrality advocates.
Net neutrality is the concept that internet service providers should not be allowed to filter the web so that certain content loads faster or costs more for user. Advocates fear that without a policy instituting net neutrality, service providers will form partnerships with corporations that make their web content operate faster, thereby shutting out smaller websites and content producers.
In the editorial, titled "The Most Important Free Speech Issue of Our Time," Franken lays out the reasons why it is necessary for the government to intervene in the operations of how consumers are delivered internet access.
Franken goes on to note that the likely FCC regulations would be particularly harmful for rural populations. Separated from the heavily wired urban areas, much of the country will depend on mobile internet access in order to gain access to new technologies. But under the FCC's plans, mobile companies would be allowed to block users from accessing specific content.
Stressing the importance for net neutrality is not a new issue for Franken. In August he spoke in advance of a FCC meeting in Minneapolis. "Ultimately what I'm afraid of," said Franken, "is that the internet service providers will be made up of about five companies."
©2010 Minnesota Independent