UPDATED: Amidst criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, the FCC today adopted new rules designed to ensure that broadband service remains open to all. The five-member commission’s 3-2 vote went down along party lines, with the 3 Democrats supporting and the 2 Republicans opposing the measures that will prohibit broadband providers from blocking access to lawful content and discriminating against sites, giving priority to some over others. Offenders will face fines and injunctions. “Today, for the first time, we are adopting rules to preserve basic Internet values,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said. “These rules will increase certainty in the marketplace; spur investment both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks, and contribute to a 21st century job-creation engine in the United States.”
Under the new rules, Internet providers will still have room to manage their traffic but have to disclose their practices to the consumers. Also, they are stricter for wired Internet providers while giving leeway to wireless providers. In a statement, the Motion Picture Association of America applauded today’s ruling while stressing the need for protection of intellectual property on the Internet. “Combating IP theft is especially critical in an online world,” MPAA president and interim CEO Bob Pisano said. “Consistent with statements by the Obama Administration and recent law enforcement initiatives, the Commission understands that stemming the rising tide of online theft requires active participation by Internet service providers. Notably, Internet service providers may take reasonable measures to address copyright infringement without running afoul of open Internet rules. Under no circumstances should open Internet rules be used to shield copyright infringers.”
WGAE issued a harsh statement criticizing the new rules for being ‘tepid’ and not addressing wireless discrimination. “A compromise means the parties to a dispute reach agreement. Here, no one has agreed to anything. These tepid rules will be challenged in court and in Congress, and they fail in the most fundamental ways – permitting paid prioritization and all manner of discrimination in wireless. Our members write most of what people watch on television and in the movie theaters and increasingly, online. Today’s FCC vote will diminish our members’ ability to create and distribute innovative content and audiences’ ability to watch the content of their choice.”
WGAW was more measured in its response while taking a shot at the pending Comcast-NBC Universal merger. “The Order approved today by the FCC is not all we had hoped for, but it does provide a regulatory platform that keeps alive the fight to preserve a free and open Internet,” the guild said. “The WGAW is encouraged by Chairman Genachowski’s announcement of rules that purport to maintain an open Internet, but the devil is in the details. We fully expect that the Chairman’s stated intention to prohibit paid prioritization will be clearly reflected in the language of the final rules… Today’s Order does not answer the question of whether huge conglomerates will control news, entertainment, and information on the Internet, but it takes significant steps in the right direction… the Guild remains focused on the most immediate threat to the future of media – the merger of Comcast and NBCU. This merger must not be approved without strong conditions that protect competition, diversity, and independence.”
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