Commentary: FCC must ensure an open Internet

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing a new set of rules that supporters say would guarantee the continued openness of the Internet.

Well, who could be against that? Indeed, for the most part the plan seems benign, although it's not clear that Internet regulation is needed at this point, given the Web’s fiercely competitive environment.

The potential problem is a proposed rule that would bar Internet service providers, or ISPs, from discriminating against certain traffic or applications.

Certainly no one is in favor of allowing cable TV and phone companies to disrupt or block traffic on their networks. But the Internet providers rightly worry that this could be another case of the devil is in the details. Would the rules lead to policies effectively barring efforts to efficiently manage Web traffic?

The worry stems from a speech by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski last fall. Genachowski said that under one of the proposed rules, providers not only couldn't "block or degrade lawful traffic," but they couldn't discriminate "by favoring some content or applications over others."

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