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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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February 26, 2008 9:58 AM

The FCC & net neutrality

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The net neutrality movement might have gotten a boost yesterday from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. According to an Associated Press story Kevin Martin said during his opening statement at a commission hearing about network monitoring and blocking practices that:

"The commission is ready, willing and able to step in if necessary to correct any practices that are ongoing today."

That sounds promising. An acknowledgement that the FCC would do something to ensure the Internet remains fluid. Probably too good to be true, right? After all, this is the regulatory agency that recently changed the media ownership rules to allow for cross-ownership in all media markets.

My suspicions were confirmed in the AP story's next couple of grafs. Martin goes on to say that Internet Service Providers need to be able to do some kind of network management to ensure that their networks function smoothly. He added that these network management practices must be disclosed to consumers.

"Consumers need to know if and how network management practices distinguish between different applications, so they can configure their own applications and systems properly."

Martin appears to be giving the commission some wiggle room. I am encouraged that the commission has held a meeting on this topic. More are needed. If anything, network providers like Comcast will know that the FCC is thinking about this issue. The commission should hold more hearings, and move to create some solid net neutrality rules.

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