Legislation and Regulation

Genachowski's choice

Tim Karr, Huffington Post

It's put up or shut up time on Net Neutrality. That's what Rob Pegoraro wrote in the Washington Post earlier this week.

And he's right.

The fate of the open Internet now rests in the hands of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The chairman just needs to muster the courage to do right by the millions of Internet users who demand an Internet of, for, and by the people.

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Telecom firms' donations to minority groups criticized as FCC considers net neutrality rules

Jennifer Martinez, LA Times

Some leading minority advocacy groups long have supported AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and other major telecommunications firms in the industry's efforts to win approvals for mergers, get rid of old regulations and avoid new government rules.

And the telecom firms, in turn, have poured millions of dollars of donations and in-kind services, including volunteer help from the carriers' executive suites, into charitable groups in the communities they serve.

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The History and future of hyper-local radio

Christine Dunbar-Hester, The Atlantic

Some day soon, Congress may pass the Local Community Radio Act, a piece of legislation that will allow a couple thousand new low-power FM radio stations to go on the air.

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Inslee to FCC: Stop stalling on broadband reclassification

On Sept. 30 Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-01) released this statement regarding the announcement that efforts to craft bipartisan net neutrality legislation in Congress have stalled: "Waiting and deliberation is over, the FCC must now move to reclassify broadband under Title II. Innovators and consumers can no longer wait, hoping, that the internet will remain open and free from discrimination they need certainty. For months I have encouraged the FCC to reinstate the rules of the road that have allowed for the explosion of innovation and economic growth on the internet. Instead, some have pointed to Congress to find a solution. Despite the efforts of Chairman Waxman, it is now clear that Congress will likely not find a bipartisan approach this year that will protect consumers and the online marketplace. The time for FCC action is now. We can't wait any longer."

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Beyond beltway, groups say the FCC must protect broadband

Media Action Grassroots Network

Nationwide, community groups respond to killed Waxman bill, claim FCC authority over broadband is the only sure way to protect consumers

A coalition of 60 community organizations from across the US and leaders representing small businesses, communities of color and America s'poor says while clear rules of the road for high speed broadband Internet are needed, getting those rules from Congress isn't the way.

Coalition spokespeople suggest that the lack of Net Neutrality protection for wireless broadband in the recent Waxman bill was unacceptable, failed to meet equity standards and could have slowed the road to economic prosperity for America's rural, struggling suburban and urban communities of color.

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Waxman's net neutrality bill would strip FCC of authority, leave out wireless net

Eliza Krigman, CongressDaily Tech Daily Dose

With precious little time left in the 111th Congress, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman's efforts to advance a net neutrality bill may be more of a messaging tool than anything else, observers say.

"A lot of legislation is introduced not because of its likelihood of enactment, but to send a message that will ricochet around the Hill and agencies," said Andrew Lipman, head of the telecommunications, media and technology group at the law firm Bingham.

Against steep odds, Waxman, D-Calif., has been leading an effort to shepherd a measure through Congress that would codify some principles to protect the openness of the Internet.

A draft bill leaked to Tech Daily Dose on Monday revealed a framework that would apply nondiscrimination principles to wireline broadband but not wireless and direct the FCC to deal with enforcement on a case-by-case basis, rather than through rulemaking. Under the draft, the commission would be prohibited from reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service under title II of the Communications Act, which would apply a more stringent regulatory regime.


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Copps: Why the FCC can't do its job on broadband access

Michael Copps, Washington Post

The Aug. 26 Washington Post editorial "An open, innovative Internet" wrongly stated that a court decided the Federal Communications Commission has no authority over Internet service providers. What the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said was that the section (Title I) of the communications statute cited by agency lawyers did not support the FCC ruling against Comcast's blocking of BitTorrent. This was a predictable outcome of FCC actions during the Bush administration that consciously moved broadband Internet access from Title II, which would have supported the commission's authority, to a murky place that invited court challenge.

This was a major flip-flop from the historic -- and successful -- approach of forbidding discrimination on our communications networks. Now is the time to put broadband back under Title II, where it belongs -- and under which many smaller companies continue to offer Internet access to the public.

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OK Go on net neutrality: A lesson from the music industry

Damien Kulash, Washington Post

On the Internet, when I send my ones and zeros somewhere, they shouldn't have to wait in line behind the ones and zeros of wealthier people or corporations. That's the way the Net was designed, and it's central to a concept called "net neutrality," which ensures that Internet service providers can't pick favorites.

Recently, though, big telecommunications companies have argued that their investment in the Net's infrastructure should allow them more control over how it's used. The concerned nerds of the world are up in arms, and there's been a long, loud public debate, during which the Federal Communications Commission appeared to develop a plan to preserve net neutrality.

The FCC's latest action on the question came partly in response to a federal appeals court ruling in April that appeared to limit the agency's authority over Internet service providers. In May, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued a plan to classify the Internet under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. In English, that means the agency would be legally recognizing a fact so obvious that I feel silly even typing it: We use the Internet to communicate. With that radical notion established, the FCC would have jurisdiction to protect the public interest on the Net, including enforcing neutrality. Since announcing its intent, though, the FCC hasn't followed through, and the corporations involved are trying to take the reins before the public servants do.

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FCC appeals court ruling on indecency authority

Gautham Nagesh, The Hill

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is appealing a federal court ruling that its indecency policy is unconstitutional, arguing the decision makes it all but impossible for the agency to enforce restrictions on broadcasting nudity or profanity.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York struck down the FCC's indecency policy last month, calling it a violation of the First Amendment. The court said the rule forces broadcasters to self-censor in order to avoid fines for accidentally broadcasting nudity or profanity.

The FCC filed a petition Thursday morning asking the court to reconsider the decision.

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Franken to speak at FCC Future of the Internet hearing in Minneapolis

Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent

UPDATE: @reclaimthemedia will tweet comments on tonight's hearing, starting around 3pm PDT. Sen. Al Franken spoke out on net neutrality ahead of a Minnesota visit by officials from the Federal Communications Commission to discuss the same issue. The FCC will hold a hearing at South High School in Minneapolis at 6 pm tonight. Franken said on Tuesday that if telecoms have their way, consumers will end up paying much more and have less open access to the internet.

“Net neutrality means everything travels at the same speed,” said Franken. He said that telecoms want consumers to “pay for the pipes.”

“The internet service providers want to pay for faster, premium access to people who will pay for it,” he said. “That means someone will get FOX before they will get you,” he told Access to Democracy host Alan Miller.

“Ultimately what I’m afraid of,” said Franken, “is that the internet service providers will be made up of about five companies.”

Here's more information from Main Street Project.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey