Net neutrality fans cheer as FCC gives up on “backroom” talks
August 5, 2010
It’s official. The Federal Communications Commission has thrown in the towel on its world-famous-secret-hush-hush net neutrality stakeholder talks.
"We have called off this round of stakeholder discussions," FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus declared today. "It has been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet—one that drives innovation, investment, free speech, and consumer choice. All options remain on the table as we continue to seek broad input on this vital issue."
But net neutrality supporters say the only option they want is the Commission classifying ISPs as common carriers based on Title II of the Communications Act.
"We hope this marks the end of the era of backroom deals at the FCC," Andrew Schwartman of the Media Access Project quickly wrote to us. "Chairman Genachowski has promised transparency, and we expect it going forward. We repeat—yet again—that the best thing for the FCC to do is to reclassify broadband under Title II. That may open the way for much more productive discussions, especially if they are held in the open."
One of the last of those stakeholder meetings included Google and Verizon, whose widely watched negotiations may or may not result in some sort of recommendation to Congress for compromise legislation on net neutrality.
But even those discussions are being met with suspicion.
"We welcome the FCC’s decision to end its backroom meetings," declared Free Press. "Phones have been ringing off the hook and e-mail inboxes overflowing at the FCC, as an outraged public learned about the closed-door deal-making and saw the biggest players trying to carve up the Internet for themselves. We’re relieved to see that the FCC now apparently finds dangerous side deals from companies like Verizon and Google to be distasteful and unproductive."
The FCC’s invited discussions on the issue were about kicking the net neutrality ball over to Congress, which is where some players say it belongs. Kyle McSlarrow of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, cable’s largest trade group, called for "targeted legislation" in Congress and applauded the FCC for "their leadership in fostering discussions that had this very reasonable goal in mind. We believe these conversations produced significant progress toward a consensus on a variety of difficult issues, and are disappointed that all issues could not be resolved."
This post has been written by Matthew Lasar on August 5, 2010 4:42 PM couresy of arstechnica.com.