updated 12:15 pm EDT, Tue August 10, 2010
FCC's Copps says users come first over Google, VZ
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps late Monday put out a statement (PDF downplaying the Google and Verizon net neutrality proposal. The official characterized the proposal as inherently flawed and reiterated the FCC's view that principles come first. Google and Verizon don't have final responsibility, the statement suggested.
"Some will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward," Copps wrote. "That's one of its many problems. It is time to move a decision forward--a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations."
Critics have already attacked the joint Google/Verizon proposal as leaving significant room for companies like Verizon to circumvent net neutrality. Most have pointed to the deliberate exclusion of cellphones and other wireless data, which would let Verizon block Skype to force customers on to more expensive voice minute plans or AT&T to throttle all streaming video but its own.
The rules would also try to steer dispute resolution away from the government and towards "Internet community governance initiatives," which would prevent any legally binding action and would be more likely to rule in favor of carriers over their subscribers. Wording in the terms would also give escape clauses for having to honor the provisions, such as allowing the provider to decide what's "unwanted" for users and still allowing prioritization as part of management.
Under current Chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC has been comparatively tough on neutrality and has tried to avoid the exemptions and lightened regulations that dictated former chair Kevin Martin's presence during the Bush presidency. Genachowski, Copps and others have pressed for neutrality on wireless as they see it as the future of Internet access and have gone so far as to reassign wireless spectrum make sure enough bandwidth exists for both faster speeds and more competitors.