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A Renewed Push for Net Neutrality

February 13, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Net neutrality is very much back on the table. Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chip Pickering (R-MI) have just introduced a new bill into the House that would amend the “Broadband Policy” section of the Communications Act, spelling out net neutrality rules for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to uphold.

The bill, entitled the “”http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-h5353/show">Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008," differs from past net neutrality legislation in that it does not tell broadband providers what they can and cannot do, but expands the scope of the FCC to respond to violations of net neutrality principles as they arise.

The bill lays out four principles of net neutrality and proposes them as official policy of the United States:

>(1) to maintain the freedom to use for lawful purposes broadband telecommunications networks, including the Internet, without unreasonable interference from or discrimination by network operators, as has been the policy and history of the Internet and the basis of user expectations since its inception;
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>(2) to ensure that the Internet remains a vital force in the United States economy, thereby enabling the Nation to preserve its global leadership in online commerce and technological innovation;
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>(3) to preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of broadband networks that enable consumers to reach, and service providers to offer, lawful content, applications, and services of their choosing, using their selection of devices, as long as such devices do not harm the network; and
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>(4) to safeguard the open marketplace of ideas on the Internet by adopting and enforcing baseline protections to guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by network operators based upon its source, ownership, or destination on the Internet.

In addition the bill calls on the FCC to develop an “Internet Freedom Assessment” and hold a series of broadband summits — both across the country and online — to gather input from a diverse group of consumers, businesses, advocacy groups and academics. Both the summits and the assessment would be designed to gather as much information as possible in regards to the Internet’s current state of neutrality and any unforseen conflicts that neutrality policies could cause.

Ed Markey (pictured above), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunication and the Internet and one of the bill’s sponsors, gave a searing defense of net neutrality principles and of his bill in a statement released by his office this morning. It’s definitely worth reading. He also made a video about the bill, which can be seen here.

Variety wrote about the bill’s introduction, providing some key quotes from advocacy groups both for and against the bill. And Free Press, founders of the Save the Internet Coalition, have heralded the bill as a blow to the gatekeepers.

OpenCongress has not yet received full text of the bill — we should have it up sometime tomorrow. For now, you can see a pdf of the bill text by clicking here. This is why we don’t have the right title up for the bill yet either. We do have a page up for the bill (linked to above and here), so you can start tracking it with your “”http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/386-Announcing-My-OpenCongress-Network-Comment-and-Vote-on-Congress">My OpenCongress" account, or monitoring news and blog coverage with an rss feed.

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