During a speech at the Brookings Institute on Monday, Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski discussed his support for net neutrality. He suggested that the existing guidelines set forth by the FCC for net neutrality should be codified for regulation purposes and that two new ideas be added that would better facilitate net neutrality.
According to cnet news, the two new guidelines “would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications…[and]…ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement.” Genachowski attempted to dispel fears of stifling innovation by highlighting the centrality of maintaining a “robust internet.”
Net neutrality is the general concept that internet users should have access to all legal content and services available on the internet. This principle means that service providers should not have the right or ability to limit or favor to particular services or content. The current FCC guidelines seek to influence network providers to allow unfettered access to all lawful services and content. However, the guidelines are not enforceable and the FCC is only able to try to convince companies to follow them. If the guidelines were to be codified, it would allow the FCC to force companies to adhere to net neutrality principles. A number of private individuals and companies, such as Google, have come out in support of net neutrality.
The net neutrality debate has moved to the foreground in recent years because certain service providers were discovered to be limiting and influencing access to certain content and services accessed through their network. With the creating of the “cyber czar” position, there was concern that the Obama administration renege on its commitment to net neutrality. However, this announcement by the FCC Chairman confirms that the administration is looking to maintain net neutrality while strengthening cyber security.