What’s Wrong With an Open Internet?

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The folllowing is an excerpt from Senate Commerce
Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (DW.
Va.), debating a resolution opposing networkneutrality
rules on the Senate floor last week:

The FCC has promulgated balanced
rules that let Americans do all of these
things — and keep the Internet open and free.
So let us be very clear from the outset. No matter
how S. J. Res. 6 is dressed up in language that
suggests it will promote openness and freedom,
it will not do that. The resolution is misguided. It
will add uncertainty to the economy. It will hinder
small businesses dependent on fair broadband
access. It will undermine innovation. It
will hamper investment in digital commerce.
And it will imperil the openness and freedom that has been
the hallmark of the Internet from the very start.

The FCC’s rules were the product of hard work, consensus
and compromise. The agency had extensive input
from stakeholders from all quarters of the broadband
economy. … And 90% of those filing supported adoption
of Open Internet rules.

On top of this, the rules are based on longstanding and
widely accepted Open Internet principles, which were
first articulated during the Bush Administration. These
rules do three basic and simple things. First, they impose
a transparency obligation on providers of broadband Internet
access service. This means that all broadband providers
are required to publicly disclose to consumers
accurate information regarding their
network-management practices.

Second, the rules prohibit fixed broadband providers
from blocking lawful content, applications,
services and devices. This means consumers and
innovators will continue to have the right to send
and receive lawful Internet traffic, with mobile
broadband service providers subjected to a more
limited set of prohibitions. Third, the rules aim
to ensure that the Internet remains a level playing
field by prohibiting fixed broadband providers
from unreasonably discriminating in transmitting
lawful network traffic.

Finally, the rules are meant to apply with the
complementary principle of reasonable network
management, which provides broadband providers the flexibility
to address congestion or traffic that’s harmful to the
network. These are principles I believe everyone can support.

So I ask my colleagues, what is wrong with transparency?
… What is so unreasonable about reasonable network management?

I believe that the FCC’s effort, along with ongoing oversight
and enforcement, will protect consumers. … While
many champions of the open Internet would have preferred
a stricter decision — and I myself have real reservations
about treating wireless broadband differently from wired
broadband — I think the FCC’s decision was a meaningful
step forward.