Genachowski: FCC Must Be The 'Smart Cop' To Keep Net Neutral


"Broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications," Genachowski said in a speech on Net Neutrality, presented Monday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

"This means they cannot block or degrade lawful traffic over their networks, or pick winners by favoring some content or applications over others in the connection to subscribers' homes. Nor can they disfavor an Internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by that broadband provider. The Internet must continue to allow users to decide what content and applications succeed."

Genachowski said he will circulate proposed rules outlining his principles to his fellow commissioners and is seeking their support. Genachowski also is asking for input from the public about reasonable network management practices, and has launched a Web site,

In his remarks, Genachowski took some ISPs to task.

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"We have witnessed certain broadband providers unilaterally block access to VoIP applications and implement technical measures that degrade the performance of peer-to-peer [P2P] software distributing lawful content. We have even seen at least one service provider deny users access to political content."

While Genachowski didn't name names, in the case of P2P blocking, he was referring to the FCC's order in August 2008 that Comcast stop blocking Web access. The FCC told Comcast to stop blocking its customers from sharing videos and other files online.

The commission's decision was in response to a complaint filed by two Internet advocacy groups that accused Comcast of "secretly degrading peer-to-peer protocols" by spoofing and jamming traffic.

Genachowski also refuted charges that the FCC is attempting to control the Internet.

"This is not about government regulation of the Internet," he said. "It's about fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the Internet. This principle will not prevent broadband providers from reasonably managing their networks. During periods of network congestion, for example, it may be appropriate for providers to ensure that very heavy users do not crowd out everyone else.

"I believe the FCC must be a smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet," he said.