FCC Continues To Work On Legislative Answer To BitTorrent

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With the help of both sides of the network neutrality debate, the FCC continues to search for a legislative answer to its broadband oversight questions.

Following a meeting with representatives of Google, Skype and the Open Internet Coalition earlier this week, Edward Lazarus, chief of staff to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, met July 13 with National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow, AT&T senior vice president James Cicconi and Verizon executive vice president Tom Tauke about "details relating to prospective legislation regarding open Internet principles," according to an ex parte filing with the commission.

Those specifics included: "Prohibitions on blocking legal content and interfering with attachment of non-harmful devices; possible legislative language for a nondiscrimination principle; treatment of specialized services; transparency of broadband Internet service performance and network management practices; an enforcement regime to protect consumers; and application of some aspect of the principles to wireless platforms."

Brokering a solution that industry and network neutrality fans could sign off on and legislators would pass, no small feat, would clarify the intent of Congress, which the FCC is attempting to interpret through the chairman's "third way" proposal for reclassifying broadband under some portions of Title II common carrier regulations.

The issue arose after a federal court ruled that the FCC had not sufficiently justified its statutory authority to sanction Comcast for blocking BitTorrent peer-to-peer file uploads.

The meeting Tuesday came only two days before initial comments are due at the FCC on that "third way" and other options for clarifying its authority.

Along with McSlarrow, Tauke and Cicconi, Richard Whitt of Google and Markham Erickson of the Open Internet Coalition have emerged as major players in the effort to reach some accord on targeted legislation that would clarify the FCC's authority to regulate network management and access.

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