Home > Legislation, Regulation > What Does an Open Internet Look Like? The FCC Wants to Hear from You.

What Does an Open Internet Look Like? The FCC Wants to Hear from You.

Today is One Web Day, and many of us are thinking about yesterday’s comments by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and his agency’s role in a new regulatory framework for delivery of content and services on the web.  His speech was significant because it showed that the Obama Administration views net neutrality as something much more than an ongoing policy war between content owners and telecom companies.  It’s about preserving the ability to innovate, grow successful businesses and maintain the free flow of information – not just on the web, but across all data connections to the web.  And, as Chairman Genachowski’s comments illustrate, the Administration sees an open Internet as a key part of this puzzle.

But how do you define openness on the Internet and across the multiplicity of devices that connect to it? It can’t just be about technical standards or equal access.  It must also be about technology itself – innovations that propel us to the next stage of technological evolution.  Does open mean equal access for all – without rewarding the creator for his efforts?  If so, how do we maintain the incentives to create such technology in the first place?

To assist in answering this truly mammoth question, the FCC is harnessing the power of the Internet itself – and inviting all of us to join the discussion.  OpenInternet.gov is a place to air views and engage with others on what an open Internet should look like. I’m sure the process will be long, messy and controversial – as the democratic process often is.   But the debate will give us crucial, much needed information about what users and stakeholders expect an open Internet to look like.

Already, the FCC’s efforts are being opposed.  A few hours after Chairman Genachowski’s remarks, a group of Republican Senators led by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) announced that they were introducing legislation to deny FCC funding for the implementation or promulgation of “internet neutrality or network management principles… or any rules related to such principles”  – because such regulation would harm the innovation that we currently see on the Internet.

I have to admit, the Senators’ press release was confusing.  Because while it voiced concern about “significant regulatory intervention,” it also defines net neutrality as:

…”policies that promote the Internet as an open platform for innovation and economic growth, while discouraging intentional discrimination against particular content or application.”

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