The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied that its draft internet rules are going to ruin the open internet, and says reports about such plans are full of "misinformation".
The FCC was accused of planning to let some web companies pay for a high-speed internet route that would guarantee them and their users preferential services, but could also deny others the same.
This raised responses from a lot of critics. Now in a statement from its chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC has denied such plans.
“There has been a great deal of misinformation that has recently surfaced regarding the draft Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that we will today circulate to the Commission,” he wrote.
“To be very direct, the proposal would establish that behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet will not be permitted. Incorrect accounts have reported that the earlier policies of the Commission have been abandoned.”
The short version of the FCC's plans say that rather than approving high-speed preferred connections, it will actually block ISPs from acting in that "unreasonable"way.
“All ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network. That no legal content may be blocked,” said Wheeler of the proposals. “[And] ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.”
This is counter to the report posted in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. The paper said the FCC is ready to propose broadband laws in the US that would let internet service providers charge premium money for high-speed, high-quality broadband lanes in a major blow to net neutrality.
The report says cases will be viewed individually, and adds that the proposals will be put forward on Thursday, in advance of a larger meeting in May. "I have to say, I'm pleased," said one cable executive, according to the WSJ.
But Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel and policy advisor with the American Civil Liberties Union, called the suggestion a step in the wrong direction.
"If true, this reversal would be a giant step in the wrong direction. Net neutrality ensures that new and innovative tech companies are not crowded out of the internet marketplace by the giants of the industry. Until consumers have a meaningful choice when connecting to the internet, monopolistic high-speed broadband providers will have an incentive to charge content providers more to connect to their customers," said Rottman.
A petition has gone live on the Watchdog.net website, asking for the FCC to reconsider. It states: "Three months ago, Watchdog and other activists delivered a petition with a million signatures to the FCC in support of net neutrality – to keep the whole internet available to everyone. This week, the news broke that the FCC intends to blow us off and betray the principle of equal access to the internet.
"Chairman Wheeler apparently thought a pat on the head would satisfy us. It certainly will not. We don't want empty rhetoric – we want a commitment to the democratic principle of net neutrality.
Tell chairman Wheeler and the rest of the FCC: We want action for democratic media, not platitudes as smokescreens for corporate domination of the internet."
Earlier this year US telecoms firm AT&T raised concerns on net neutrality after it announced plans to allow companies to "sponsor" data on its network.
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