The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008

The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008

Last week US Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and “Chip” Pickering (R-MS) introduced a net neutrality bill in Congress.  This special edition starts out with a WaPo story about Comcast’s admission that it “shapes” internet traffic, then clips five stories about the bill and Markey’s strategy.  The most detailed is the last one, by Harold Feld.

SavetheInternet.com is your best source for following this story as it develops.  They have a video clip of  Ed Markey commenting on the bill, and a campaign tool designed to quickly get 100 co-sponsors. – rm

Comcast Defends Role As Internet Traffic Cop
by Cecilia Kang
Washington Post
02/13/08

Comcast said yesterday that it purposely slows down some traffic on its network, including some music and movie downloads, an admission that sparked more controversy in the debate over how much control network operators should have over the Internet.

In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast said such measures — which can slow the transfer of music or video between subscribers sharing files, for example — are necessary to ensure better flow of traffic over its network.

In defending its actions, Comcast stepped into one of the technology industry’s most divisive battles. Comcast argues that it should be able to direct traffic so networks don’t get clogged; consumer groups and some Internet companies argue that the networks should not be permitted to block or slow users’ access to the Web.

Comcast’s FCC filing yesterday was in response to petitions to the agency by the consumer group Free Press and the online video provider Vuze, which claimed that the cable company was abusing its control over its network to impede video competition.

Separately, the FCC began an investigation of Comcast’s network practices after receiving those complaints. That review is ongoing, according to Comcast, which said it hasn’t received any specific orders based on the complaints.  The FCC prohibits network operators from blocking applications but opens the door to interpretation with a footnote in a policy statement that provides for an exemption for “reasonable management.”

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet, plans to introduce a bill today calling for an Internet policy that would prohibit network operators from unreasonably interfering with consumers’ right to access and use content over broadband networks. The bill also calls for the FCC to hold eight meetings around the nation to assess whether there is enough competition among network providers and whether consumers’ rights are being upheld.   —>
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/12/AR2008021202778.html?hpid=moreheadlines
~

The “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008”
by Jonathan Askin
Who’s Askin?
02/13/08

[ comments allowed ]

To the best of my knowledge, it’s been a while since anyone in Congress has introduced a forward-looking Internet Bill. Not since the heyday of the Net Neutrality debates a couple years ago have we seen much original and new pro-Internet legislation. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been stuck in the Ivory Tower this year and outside the DC corridors of power. Whatever the reality, we wait no longer for a positive, pro-Internet Bill.

The leading and long-time champions of the Internet and of competition from both sides of the aisle in the US House of Representatives have introduced the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act 2008” (HR 5353) today. The bill, introduced by Reps. Ed Markey and Chip Pickering, would codify Internet freedoms and would compel the FCC to engage in a national dialogue on the future of the Internet…

If passed, the following would become the policy of the United States:   —>
http://blogs.pulver.com/whosaskin/archives/2008/02/the_internet_fr.html
~

Markey’s Net Neutrality
New Bill Reignites Net Neutrality Debate
by Chris Albrecht
NewTeeVee

[ 2 comments ]

—>   As it was only introduced yesterday, the contents of the bill had not made their way to Congress.gov for further review. Though the information that was available seems to indicate the bill is more about data collection:

“To establish broadband policy and direct the Federal Communications Commission to conduct a proceeding and public broadband summits to assess competition, consumer protection, and consumer choice issues relating to broadband Internet access services, and for other purposes.”

If they’re right, that’s too bad, because we are at a crucial juncture in the Net Neutrality debate and we need something with teeth. Between streaming and multiple downloading options, including BitTorrent, consumers have more ways than ever to bypass oldteevee. Recognizing this, cable companies like Time Warner, which have an incentive to keep you tethered to your coaxial, are experimenting with usage-based Internet pricing models, as well as the aforementioned traffic-shaping measures.   —>
http://newteevee.com/2008/02/13/new-bill-reignites-net-neutrality-debate/
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Markey Opens 2nd Round of Net Neutrality Fight
by Paul Kapustka
Gigaom
02/13/08

[ 5 comments ]

Ding! The second round of the Net Neutrality battle officially started today, with Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey’s introduction of H.R. 5353, a bill supporters are calling the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008.” Detractors, of course, will call it many other things, including a revival of 2006-era attempts to write Net Neutrality concepts into law. But a quick read-through of the official document shows a few twists, including some provisions for easing of video franchising laws, that may win some previous detractors over to the Net Neutrality side.

In addition to the video-franchising language, perhaps the most surprising thing about the bill is its timing — most telecom policy insiders doubt that any such legislation will pass until after the presidential election, since there doesn’t seem to be a wide consensus or support for the ideas it contains. But Markey’s somewhat expected bill — co-sponsored by Republican Chip Pickering of Mississippi — rolls the Net Neutrality ball back onto the court after basically being sidelined since the fall of 2006.   —>
http://gigaom.com/2008/02/13/markey-opens-2nd-round-of-net-neutrality-fight/
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Explaining the Ed Markey Strategy on Net Neutrality
by Matt Stoller
OpenLeft.com
02/14/08

[ 2 comments ]

Ok, so Democrat Ed Markey and Republican Chip Pickering just introduced a bill called the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008” which does a number of things to advance the notion of an open internet.  Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet sees the bill as weak tea, while Harold Feld has a more nuanced take.  The bill does two things.  It makes explicit that Federal policy is to keep the internet open, and it mandates that the FCC go out and hold hearings outside of DC on whether Federal policy is preserving the openness of the internet, followed by a report.

It has limited to no enforcement provisions, and it doesn’t really have a lot of teeth.  It’s nowhere near as strong as Markey’s amendment last cycle, or the Snowe-Dorgan bill introduced earlier this year in the Senate.  So why is the SavetheInternet coalition excited, and why is telecom shill Scott Cleland in a lather, calling this a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

The answer is that this is not about passing a law in Congress, but about establishing net neutrality, broadband deployment, and an open internet as priorities for the next administration.  It’s a setup for ambitious and progressive agenda at the FCC starting in 2009, one Obama has already outlined.  The FCC is a regulatory agency with a fair amount of discretion, but it is responsive to Congressional hearings and possible legislation.  When members sign on to a bill like this, or fight it, it has an impact on the range of options available to commissioners.   —>
http://openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3916
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The Markey-Pickering “Net Neutrality” Bill: Grinding Out One More First Down In The Internet Freedom Bowl.
by Harold Feld
WetMachine
02/13/08

[ 2 comments ]

God knows I love Ed Markey as one of the true defenders of us average folks. Time and again, he has proven himself that rare combination of smarts and political savvy to remain an effective champion against media consolidation and telco and cable interests even when he was minority member. Which is why it always pays to pay attention when he acts.

Markey’s latest bill, The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, H.R. 5353 (co-sponsored by retiring Republican “Chip” Pickering (R-MS)), would seem at first glance pretty weak gruel compared to his previous bill in 2006. So what lies behind this apparent retreat from an outright ban on ISPs discriminating to Congressional findings, a mandate for some FCC hearings, and a report? After all, with Markey chair of the Subcommittee, shouldn’t he be pushing something more aggressive? I mean, the Dems control both houses of Congress now, right?

The answer lies in the pragmatics of Washington and the recognition that — unlike in the movies — major battles aren’t won overnight. As I have said before, this is a long, messy fight in which both sides invest a heck of a lot of time and energy in positioning themselves and grinding out short yardage plays to advance the ball. Seen in that context, the Markey Bill is a very effective tool for both keeping the debate alive and advancing the ball another ten yards toward the goal post.

So, Harold, what does the The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 (H.R. 5353) do?  I’m glad you asked! Here is a section by section breakdown.   —>
http://www.wetmachine.com/item/1068
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

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