Draft net neutrality bill to go before US Congress

1 Oct 2010

A leaked draft net neutrality bill compiled by California Congressman Henry Waxman is expected to be put before the US Houses of Congress next week.

The Bill been described as a compromise between rules proposed by the FCC and a structure suggested by Google and Verizon.

Under the Waxman Bill, wireline internet providers would be subject to all of the basic principles of the “open internet” advocated by net neutrality supporters, including bans on the blocking of unreasonable interference with lawful content, applications, services and devices.

Providers would also be prohibited from unjustly or unreasonably discriminating in favour or against lawful traffic in order to optimise traffic or manage network behaviour. In other words, providers who compete with voice and TV products cannot intentionally slow or block customer access to similar or free services from web providers.

The Waxman Bill requires the FCC to examine individual cases one by one rather than issuing wide-ranging rules and regulations.

In terms of wireless, where many parties to the debate feel because of the limited spectrum open internet rules need not apply, the Bill aims to apply only a limited subset of net neutrality rules to wireless operators and ban operators from blocking lawful applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video communications services.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years