'Net neutrality' plan proposed

09:13, August 11, 2010      

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Google and US telecom titan Verizon on Monday proposed a legal framework to safeguard "net neutrality," but they said the rules should not apply to wireless broadband Internet connections.

Google and Verizon laid out a plan for US legislators to create laws aimed at preventing Internet service providers from violating "net neutrality" by giving some data priority over other digital information.

The proposed framework would ban "undue discrimination against any lawful Internet content" and give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the power to impose "a forfeiture" of as much as $2 million for each violation.

Under the proposal, the FCC would have exclusive authority to oversee broadband Internet access service but would not have power over online applications, content or services.

"We both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wireline world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly," the companies said.

"In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless."

Recommending that wireless Internet connections be exempt from net neutrality rules played into fears that Google is changing allegiances in the battle to stop Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to those who pay.

"Mobile is the future, and mobile is wireless," California high school student Mitchell Kernot reasoned. "So, what they are saying is the future isn't net neutral."

The proposal calls for letting broadband service providers freely offer "additional services" such as Verizon FIOS TV, which is currently available.

"It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options," the companies said.

Critics worried that such services might become a non-public parallel wireless Internet where data could get special handling.

The proposal contains some good principles but "falls short," said Center for Democracy and Technology president Leslie Harris.

"The companies' plan puts wireless Internet service into a regulatory no-go zone and offers only toothless protection for the open Internet against the voracious expansion of so-called 'additional services,'" Harris said.

The plan "creates an Internet for the haves and an Internet for the have-nots," Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior vice president and policy director at the Media Access Project, an advocacy group in Washington, told the New York Times. "It may make some services unaffordable for consumers and access to those services unavailable to new start-ups."

Source: Global Times


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