Knight Center
Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

New FCC rules guarantee open and free Internet in the U.S.



On Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed 3-2 to uphold "net neutrality," guaranteeing users the right to view whatever they want on the Internet, according to the Wall Street Journal. Under the decision, Internet providers cannot interfere with Web traffic.

The rules, however, do not apply to wireless broadband carriers, a concern given that they are becoming the main Internet providers for smartphone users, according to the Washington Post.

Also a concern is that the new rules do allow the potential for Internet companies, such as Amazon or Google, to pay extra to phone and cable companies to have the data on their websites delivered faster. Any such priority arrangement would have to be disclosed.

Many consumer and civic organizations oppose this idea of priority service. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that the Internet has been "open and freedom-enhancing" since the beginning, so there is no need for such rules.

Some, however, like Apple co- founder Steve Wozniak, said the rules do not go far enough to protect consumers and allow an open Internet. In a letter published in the Atlantic magazine, Wozniak wrote: "The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away. Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible."

Seattlepi.com explained that the rules are largely preemptive, because as of yet, there has not been a problem with Internet providers discriminating against or blocking websites.

While President Barak Obama said the FCC's decision protects consumers, encourages innovation and defends free speech, Republicans already are mounting a campaign to block the rules, the Washington Post said.



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