One Year of Empty Net Neutrality Promises

A year ago today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a major speech on Network Neutrality — the top issue on President Obama’s technology policy platform.

At the Brookings Institution, Genachowski declared that without Net Neutrality — the fundamental principle that keeps the Internet open and free from discrimination — “we could see the Internet’s doors shut to entrepreneurs, the spirit of innovation stifled, a full and free flow of information compromised.”
He also warned: “If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late.”

It’s now been 365 days since Genachowski's speech, and we’re still waiting for Net Neutrality.

In fact, today, Net Neutrality seems in even greater danger, as Genachowski continues to drag his feet on establishing clear rules to protect the nation’s communications infrastructure.

The chairman now claims there are lingering questions about Net Neutrality — and he recently launched another round of public comment that will delay any rulemaking to the end of the year at the earliest. But the questions he’s asking have already been answered by one Julius Genachowski.

Look no further than his own words on Net Neutrality:

Only One Internet: “Even though each form of Internet access has unique technical characteristics, they are all are different roads to the same place,” Genachowski said. “It is essential that the Internet itself remain open, however users reach it.”

Whereas one year ago, we had a FCC chairman who understood the value in extending Net Neutrality protections to both wireless and wired services, we now have a chairman who utters not a word of protest when Google and Verizon cook up a scheme to gut Net Neutrality protections on wired services and abolish them for wireless Internet.

No Prioritizing: “Broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications,” Genachowski said. “This means they cannot block or degrade lawful traffic over their networks, or pick winners by favoring some content or applications over others in the connection to subscribers’ homes. Nor can they disfavor an Internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by that broadband provider.”

Whereas one year ago, we had a FCC chairman who understood the harms of prioritizing content on the Web,, we now have a chairman who holds closed door meetings with industry groups and lobbyists as they whisper their latest plans for “managing” the Internet.

Managed Services Don’t Interfere with Open Internet: “I also recognize that there may be benefits to innovation and investment of broadband providers offering managed services in limited circumstances,” Genachowski said. “These services are different than traditional broadband Internet access, and some have argued they should be analyzed under a different framework. I believe such services can supplement -- but must not supplant -- free and open Internet access, and that we must ensure that ample bandwidth exists for all Internet users and innovators.”

Whereas one year ago, we had a FCC chairman who rightly recognized the need for safeguards to ensure managed services didn’t stop robust development of the open Internet, we now have a chairman who appears willing to forgo these safeguards under industry pressure.

And whereas one year ago, we had a FCC chairman who pledged to institute forward-thinking Internet policy that would protect free speech online, we now have an indecisive chairman who has failed to move this process forward.

The public clearly wants Genachowski to follow his own lead. That means, first, restoring the FCC’s authority to protect Internet users. Then the FCC must enact Net Neutrality rules that safeguard the open Internet for all users, no matter how they get online.

As one of the biggest champions for an open Internet, it’s not too late for him to take the reins and steer the FCC in the right direction.

Why not start today and make this anniversary a happy one?

This editorial was originally published by The Hill.

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