FCC chair to unveil Internet oversight plans

Joe Flint, LA Times

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday will disclose the agency's much-anticipated approach to regulating the Internet.

The move comes in the wake of a recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the FCC overstepped its bounds when it chastised broadband provider Comcast Corp. for impeding some of its customers from using the file-sharing service BitTorrent because it is a so-called bandwidth hog and slows down the Internet for everyone.

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Genachowkski plans to reclassify portions of broadband to assert FCC authority over Internet access

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will announce Thursday a way for the agency to better assert its authority over broadband services. An FCC official said in a statement that its move will be somewhere between deregulation, the state of broadband services today, and a more regulatory approach.

Legal experts interpreted the statement to say that portions of broadband under a classification of telecommunications services are firmly under the FCC's authority, with a plan to strip many rules that apply to phone services from broadband.

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FCC should keep options open on web rules, two Democrats say

Todd Shields, Business Week

The Federal Communications Commission should consider all options to retain authority over Internet services after a U.S. court restricted regulators’ powers, two Democratic lawmakers said. Representative Henry Waxman of California and Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who head each chamber’s commerce committee, said they may back an Internet law giving the agency more power, according to a letter today to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

“It is essential for the commission to have oversight” and protect an open Internet, the lawmakers said in a statement. The FCC should consider placing Internet services under the rules applied to telephone companies, they said.

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Broadband change we can believe in--or deja vu all over again?

Jonathan Lawson, Reclaim the Media

UPDATE: Your phone calls and emails to the FCC appear to have had an effect: Chairman Genachowski reportedly plans to announce Thursday morning a new strategy for asserting authority to protect broadband consumer rights. Stay tuned!

Ever get that feeling, like it's deja vu all over again?

When the FCC held a public hearing on media consolidation in Seattle two years ago, over 1100 people turned out to deliver a clear message: don't let big media get any bigger. But just days afterwards, then-FCC Chairman Kevin Martin informed the readers of the New York Times that he planned to go ahead with plans to dismantle more of the rules protecting media diversity.

Now, days after Seattle urged the FCC to affirm its authority to protect broadband users from corporate content-blocking, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski appears to be backtracking from his stated support for strong net neutrality rules. Read more for details and take action!

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Apple to shut down Lala "music locker" service

Matt Rosoff, CNet

Once again, it looks as if the recording industry is standing square in the way of giving users what they want: access to their digital-music collections from any device in any location.

Earlier on Friday, a notice appeared on Lala, announcing that the service would be shut down on May 31. Apple acquired Lala in late 2009, and a lot of folks have speculated that Apple would launch its own version of Lala's online-music locker service, which enables users to upload their music collections to Lala's servers, then stream those songs to any Internet-connected device.

(Technically, users don't upload actual music files to Lala, as they do with MP3Tunes. Rather, users upload metadata about their music collections, and Lala then enables them to stream the songs from its servers.)

Unfortunately, according to a report from All Things Digital's Peter Kafka, music fans shouldn't expect Lala's music locker functionality to find its way into iTunes or MobileMe anytime soon.

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Microsoft warns against strong definition of net neutrality

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

I dug a bit more today and found some interesting nuggets in Microsoft’s comments about the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules.

The software giant, long a proponent of open Internet policies, isn’t as keen on some portions of a proposed rule by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that would restrict any discrimination of Web traffic or applications by broadband access providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

Microsoft didn’t take a position on the FCC’s legal authority over broadband services. Microsoft said it favored better enforcement of guidelines for how Internet access providers handle traffic on their networks. And it said the FCC needed more investigation into whether it should include wireless network providers in new rules. Wireless providers argue that their networks have capacity constraints unlike those of fixed-wire broadband providers and shouldn't be subject to the same rules.

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Clearwire departs from industry take on net neutrality

Brad Reed, Network World

While most wireless carriers have fiercely opposed the imposition of network neutrality standards on wireless data networks, WiMAX wholesaler Clearwire is taking a decidedly different approach.

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FCC panelists: Net neutrality protects innovation and freedom

Nick Eaton, Microsoft Blog/Seattle P-I

Failure to regulate the Internet and preserve net neutrality would thwart innovation and endanger the already-fragile U.S. economy, several experts told the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, a district court last week said the FCC doesn't have the power to prohibit Internet service providers from restricting access to specific websites, raising questions over the agency's ability to regulate the Internet. Now the FCC is trying to perhaps reclassify Internet-protocol (IP) communications as telecommunications, or find some other way around the ruling.

"An Internet in the dark runs too great a risk of becoming a closed Internet," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a video statement before an FCC workshop Wednesday at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle. Most panelists at the event agreed.

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Genachowski vows to continue net neutrality push

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Wednesday pledged to keep the faith when it comes to taking steps to insure network neutrality, court case or no.

At opening remarks for an open internet field hearing in Seattle, Wash., the chairman pointed out that it was only down the road a piece in Hillsboro, Ore., that Comcast's secret blocking of "lawful Internet traffic" was discovered.

That discovery, and others, he said "made clear that an Internet in the dark runs too great a risk of becoming a closed Internet -- with substantial costs to our ability to lead the world in innovation and freedom."

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FCC must reassert broadband authority, say social justice organizations

Reclaim the Media

SEATTLE - On April 27, a national coalition of social justice and media advocacy organizations delivered to the Federal Communications Commission an open letter urging chairman Julius Genachowski to act quickly to reassert the agency's authority to regulate broadband in the public interest. The letter comes in the wake of a federal appeals court decision which dealt a blow to that authority, and at a time when the FCC is in the midst of a broad range of policymaking activities focused on improving and broadening the Internet experience for millions of Americans.

The letter, signed by thirty-four national and regional organizations affiliated or allied with the Media Action Grassroots Network, points out that persistent digital divides continue to threaten the economic and political well being of communities of color, and that these communities have particular need for protection against telecommunications providers who have historically been unwilling to prioritize equal service for all communities, despite a deregulated economic environment and often massive profits.

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