Mystery Bill Would Pry Open Cable Nets

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Washington -- No one is claiming authorship, but somebody
here is circulating draft legislation that calls for a ban on exclusive deals between
cable operators and affiliated Internet-service providers.

One source said the draft bill originated within the
100-member Congressional Internet Caucus, while another said it's possible that the
sponsor was a member of the OpenNet Coalition, the group backed by America Online Inc.
that wants cable networks to be opened to ISPs.

The one-page draft bill would give the Federal
Communications Commission 120 days to adopt regulations ensuring that in the online world,
cable operators may not:

• Engage in unfair methods of competition;

• Engage in deceptive acts or practices;

• Discriminate in favor of their affiliated ISPs; or

• Restrain competing ISPs from competing fairly.

OpenNet spokeswoman Kristan Van Hook said the draft bill
was "not an OpenNet document" because the 50-member business coalition had not
reached a consensus on legislation.

"Perhaps it's the work of one of our member
companies," Van Hook added.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Rob Goodlatte (R-Va.), co-chairman
of the CIC, said she did not believe that the draft bill originated on Capitol Hill.