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U.S. Lawmaker offers Net Neutrality Bill

by on14 February 2008


Claims content provider protection is key

U.S. House of Representatives member Edward Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts) has presented a bill in Congress that he claims is designed to prevent broadband Internet providers from "unreasonably" interfering with subscribers' access to content.  Known as “Net Neutrality,” the issue is hotly contested between Open-Internet advocates and some Internet Service Providers who claim they must intervene to protect the traffic on their sites.  The bill seems in particular to affect politically conservative broadband provider, Comcast Corporation. Comcast is the second-largest `U.S. Internet service provider with more than 13 million subscribers.

Markey claims that his legislation aims to help protect the Internet’s “open architecture” while at the same time to protect content providers from being subjected to "unreasonably discriminatory practices by broadband network providers.”

The bill also would require communications regulators to study the issue and to hold regular public hearings.  The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has received numerous consumer group complaints that Comcast has blocked certain types of content on its network that it does not favor, in particular file-sharing applications, text messaging, and BitTorrent applications.  Comcast claims that it does not discriminate or block particular types of content, but likened what it does to managing Internet traffic, similar to traffic ramp control lights on a freeway during rush hour.  Freeway traffic lights, however, do not distinguish between the types of cars that are permitted to enter the highway by allowing one and blocking another, but are merely there to regulate traffic flow.

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Last modified on 14 February 2008
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