Dec. 21: FCC Issues Controversial ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

By Andrew Kreig / JIP Director's Blog

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Dec. 21 approved by a 3-2 party line vote a compromise proposal on net neutrality rules. The new provisions impose on telecom and cable broadband operators transparency, anti-blocking and anti-discrimination provisions while giving internet service providers flexibility to exercise “reasonable” network management, including higher costs for some services. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski won a majority with the help of two Democrats who wanted stronger consumer protections. Both FCC Republicans opposed the rules, predicting they would be overturned in court as going beyond the commission’s powers delegated by Congress.

Civil rights and Internet freedom groups complained that the commission’s compromise does not adequately protect users against content restrictions and price-gouging. Providers tended to complain that the rules are over-regulatory. The rules are expected to be a bonanza for relevant DC lobbyists and other advocates as they are hired to impact the interpretation of such terms as “reasonable.”

Click for the statements of Democratic Chairman Julius Genachowski and the two senior members of the Commission, Democrat Michael Copps and Republican Robert McDowell.  The Justice Integrity Project attended the vote, and plans to publish our analysis tomorrow.

Editor's Note: Below is a selection of significant blogs and news articles on legal reform and related political, security and media news. The articles contain a sample of news, with the full article viewable by clicking the link.

Dec. 21

OpEdNews, McCarthyism on Steroids: Monitoring Americans, Jesselyn Radack, Dec. 21, 2010. The Washington Post, to its credit, has a new blockbuster article, "Monitoring America," that is part of its larger "Top Secret America" series. In frightening detail, it dissects the vast domestic localized intelligence apparatus being used to collect, store and analyze information about Americans, most of whom have not been accused of any crime….Every state and local law enforcement agency feeds information to a vast, top-secret repository at the FBI, which stores the identities and profiles of those who are not known criminals or terrorists, but appear to have been "acting suspiciously" to a traffic cop or even a neighbor….My concern, after a stint on the "No-Fly List" during the Bush years for whistleblowing, is that information in the database could be improperly used or released.

Salon/Unclaimed Territory, The NYT spills key military secrets on its front page, Glenn Greenwald, Dec. 21, 2010.  In The New York Times today, Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins expose very sensitive classified government secrets -- and not just routine secrets, but high-level, imminent planning for American covert military action in a foreign country…. The question that emerges from all of this is obvious, but also critical for those who believe Wikileaks and Julian Assange should be prosecuted for the classified information they have published:  should the NYT editors and reporters who just spilled America's secrets to the world be criminally prosecuted as well?  After all, WikiLeaks has only exposed past conduct, and never -- like the NYT just did -- published imminent covert military plans.

WLCentral,  Statement by Julian Assange's counsel Mark Stephens, Nov. 18, 2010.  On the morning of 21 August 2010, my client, Julian Assange, read in the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen that there was a warrant out for his arrest relating to allegations of “rape” involving two Swedish women. However, even the substance of the allegations, as revealed to the press through unauthorized disclosures do not constitute what any advanced legal system considers to be rape; as various media outlets have reported “the basis for the rape charge” purely seems to constitute a post-facto dispute over consensual, but unprotected sex days after the event.