Wednesday, August 04, 2010

FCC Draws Fire Over Talks With Internet, Telecom Giants on 'Net Neutrality'

Cecelia Kang writes on The Washington Post:

Thwarted in his campaign to set government control over consumer access to the Internet, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has been trying to salvage his efforts by negotiating directly with a handful of the biggest Web firms and network service providers.

His goal is for those firms to put aside their differences on how Internet service providers control content on their networks and agree on legislation that Genachowski can present to Congress.

But critics say that by handpicking Google, AT&T, Verizon and Skype for seven closed-door meetings that continue this week at the FCC, Genachowski could be determining the future of how consumers access the Web in a manner more favorable to those businesses.

Massive corporate interests are at stake as the firms and the agency discuss so-called net neutrality provisions, or regulations that would prevent Internet providers from blocking or slowing access to Web sites. The talks could determine, for instance, whether Verizon could provide YouTube online video with better resolution than competitor Netflix, or whether Google and Skype have to pay extra to get their online voice services onto AT&T broadband networks.

"These big companies can make deals for themselves, but they are leaving out the rest of us," said Susan Crawford, a communications law professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

More here.


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