The booming growth of the online world is no accident. Little to no regulation by the U.S. federal government has allowed competition to flourish, innovate and invest. But, as USENET newsgroups report, the Federal Communications Commission is considering onerous regulations that could derail all this progress.
The Federal Communications Commission last Thursday approved controversial proposed rules governing internet access during its monthly public meeting. Commissioners on all sides of the debate stressed the importance of having an open internet, and in engaging in constructive dialogue on the issue going forward.
The proposed rules also hold that providers cannot prevent users from running lawful applications or services. The agency said it is seeking comment on how it should address internet protocol-based offerings provided over networks used for broadband. The decision transformed a Washington, D.C., policy debate festering for years into a national issue pitching companies that create Internet content against businesses that own the networks.
The move has been marked by newsgroups as the beginning of a formal phase of regulating online, including USENET, access. Although the FCC in August 2005 adopted a policy statement pledging fidelity to four Net neutrality principles, such a policy was never binding upon all broadband providers.
The uncertainty over how to ensure an open Web is the latest example of how technology is moving so quickly that our regulatory institutions can’t keep up. Local technology companies and investors support strong neutrality rules, while telecommunications firms are wary of what they might mean.