You might remember the story I posted on 10/19/07 about Comcast blocking P2P downloads. Now there is a follow up. A coalition has asked the FCC to "immediately declare that Comcast is violating the FCC’s policy." The coalition is comprised of several heavyweights, including the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and professor of internet practices of the Yale, Harvard and Stanford Law schools, among others.
This will be the first test of the FCC’s stance on Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is a concept that says ISPs should not favor any content, sites or applications, as this would take control away from users. Users should dictate the content they want and get that content with the same speed as any other content. In other words, ISPs should not block access to P2P, voip or any other content. Nor should they "push" users toward any particular content, such as ensuring YouTube videos will load faster than any other type of video.
Are ISPs common carriers? A common carrier such as the telephone system, is regulated and must give equal treatment to all messages. If ISPs are such, then they cannot block access to content. The FCC thus far has been reluctant to take a stand against ISPs, and there is the problem. But they did issue a Policy Statement 05-151, which says,
Policy Statement 05-151 is also important in that it set forth the following four principals regarding network regulation:
- Consumers are entitled to access content of their choice.
- Consumers have a right to programs of their choice.
- Consumers should be able to connect legal devices of their choice to networks.
- Consumers have a right to select from competing networks, services, and content providers.
The FCC has geared up for battle with that Statement, and Comcast has challenged it. Let the battle begin.