A leaked draft of a proposed net neutrality bill outlines the FCC's regulatory role if the bill is passed.
A draft of a net neutrality bill proposed by the House Energy and
Commerce Committee Chairman and Sen. Harry Waxman (D-Calif.) leaked
by the blog Tech Daily Dose and Washington, D.C.-centric technology
Hillicon Valley, would curb the Federal Communications Commission's
ability to enforce the guidelines laid out in the bill after two
years. The agency would not be allowed to impose additional rules on
Internet service providers.
The leaked draft states wireline providers should not "block lawful
content, applications, or services, or prohibit the use of non-harmful
devices, subject to reasonable network management" or "unjustly or
unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic over a
consumer's wireline broadband Internet access service", while wireless
providers "shall not block lawful applications that compete with the
provider's voice or video communications services in which the provider
has an attributable interest."
The draft also said the FCC may issue a fine or forfeiture of up
to $2 million for any practice found to violate the rules laid out in
the preceding paragraphs. In addition, wireline providers must disclose
information "in plain language" regarding the price, performance and
network management practices of its wireline broadband Internet access
services, in order for consumers to make informed choices about their
broadband Internet use, as well as for services and for content,
application, service and device providers to develop and market
The language in the draft classifies "reasonable network management" as
a network management practice that is "appropriate and tailored to
achieving a legitimate network management function" and takes into
account the particular network architecture or technology of the
provider. "It includes appropriate and tailored practices to reduce or
mitigate the effects of congestion on a broadband Internet access
provider's network; to ensure network security or integrity; to address
traffic that is harmful to or unwanted by users, including premise
operators, or to the provider's network, or the Internet; to meet the
needs of public safety; and to provide services or capabilities to
effectuate a consumer's choices, including parental controls or
security capabilities," the draft stated.
Hillicon Valley reported
sources saying members of the OIC (Open Internet Coalition), which
includes companies such as Facebook, Google and Skype, have decided not
to support or fight the bill. "Part of OIC's problem with the
bill, sources said, is that draft versions impact the varied member
companies in very different ways," wrote a Hillicon Valley blogger.
"Several people with knowledge of the group said leading voices in the
Open Internet Coalition (OIC) hoped to support the bill as it was
developed this month, but a lack of consensus was clear as the latest
Comments from Claude Chafin, a spokesman for Rep. Marsha Blackburn
(R-Tenn.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Communications
subcommittee, suggests Republican opposition to the bill may pose
difficulties for its attempted passage through Congress. "How fitting
that in the last days of this Congress, Democrats would draw up a bill
to regulate one of the few non-government sectors of our economy still
creating jobs," Chafin told Hillicon Valley on Sept. 27.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.