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Justice Department Opposes Network Neutrality in FCC Filing

Sep 7, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The Bush Administration’s Justice Department is going on record opposing network neutrality requirements on Internet providers. Justice on Thursday warned the Federal Communications Commission against listening to consumers, consumer groups and companies including Google, which are urging the agency to act to ensure consumer choice.
In a filing today, the Justice Department called on the FCC to be “highly skeptical” of such requests.
“Marketplace restrictions proposed by some proponents of ‘net neutrality’ could in fact prevent, rather than promote, optimal investment and innovation in the Internet, with significant effects for the economy and consumers,” the filing said.
Net neutrality proponents support equal access to Internet content without interference or discrimination by the Internet service provider.
The Justice filing comes as the FCC is being flooded by net neutrality proponents’ warnings that, without some limits, the phone and cable companies who manage most of the Internet pipes could start imposing toll charges on content providers; that could mean favored providers get faster access to consumers’ doorsteps and gain a competitive advantage.
Nearly 28,000 comments have been filed at the FCC, most from net neutrality proponents.
In the video world, proponents of net neutrality warn that network owners could make some video streams far faster or better quality than those of rivals.
Congress last year moved toward imposing some net neutrality as part of legislation easing the way for phone companies to obtain local cable franchises. However, the phone companies abandoned the bill after net neutrality provisions were added.
Proponents of the limits have since pushed for the FCC or Congress to act; the FCC has been looking at the issue.
In its filing the Justice Department said, “Free market competition, unfettered by unnecessary government regulatory restraints, is the best way to foster innovation and development of the Internet.” Justice also warned that restrictions would “skew investment, delay innovation and diminish consumer welfare.”
Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, one of the groups urging the FCC to act, today ripped the Justice Department filing.
“It is at odds with reality for a Justice Department that approved the largest telecommunications merger in history with a mere press release to now claim that market forces and antitrust enforcement will be able to protect the free and open Internet,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce telecom panel, also criticized the move.
“The Bush administration’s decision to oppose Internet freedom flies in the face of the open nature of the Internet, which has fostered unprecedented innovation and economic growth,” he said. “Network neutrality safeguards would preserve the open architecture of the Internet and prevent companies from downgrading and discriminating against competitive Internet services and applications.”
(Editor: Horowitz)

9 Comments

  1. net neutrality is so much bigger then just offering more services..is about freedom of speech. the internet is just about the only way left were a single person can reach the world. By applying economic restriction..this will no doubt lead to censorship…just look at television. compare the content on tv to the content on the internet and you will see what i mean.. Net neutrality allows for me to create a website and express my beliefs/opinions popular or not. my responsibility is to advertise.
    Imagine paying per email as you do now per text message. if you allow neutrality to go away..you are letting the ISP control the media(scary thought).please i encourage for everybody to research this subject..it is very important, i know there are cons to government regulations. but freedom of speech is paramount

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