December 20, 2010
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to vote Tuesday to approve new “network neutrality” rules to limit Internet providers from favoring or discriminating against traffic that goes over their networks. The majority of commissioners is expected to support the rules.
Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, said, “The FCC is moving the ball forward to protect consumers who access the Internet through wireline connections, such as cables that connect PCs to Internet services. For a long time consumers have been left in limbo amid mounting concerns about the potential for Internet providers to show preferential treatment to certain content providers, and these new rules represent a positive step forward. As the FCC implements the rules, we look forward to working with the Commission to ensure consumers get the protections they need.
“From what we know, we would prefer that the Commission provide stronger protections for wireless Internet users in addition to wireline users, as more Americans use smartphones and other wireless devices to surf the web. If these rules are actually going to protect consumers, the Commission must be vigilant in monitoring Internet service providers to make sure they don’t try to circumvent the rules and take unfair advantage of the FCC’s definition of what constitutes broadband service,” Desai said.
Mark Cooper, Director of Research at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), said, “The network neutrality order could be an important milestone in ensuring that the Internet remains an open, consumer and citizen friendly place for communications and commerce. There are areas where stronger consumer protections are needed. CFA views the order as the platform on which those consumer protection can be built and we will work to ensure that consumers get those protections in the arenas where Internet policy is set.
“First, at the FCC, the order must be implemented and enforced in a way that guarantees the broadband Internet service available to the pubic achieves the primary goal of the Communications Act, which is to ensure that all Americans have access to ‘a rapid, efficient nationwide and worldwide wire and radio communications service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.’ Second in Congress, we will support efforts to strengthen the consumer protections and oppose efforts to weaken them,” Cooper said.
David Butler, Consumers Union, 202-462-6262