Today (Oct. 22), the Federal Communications Commission took affirmative steps in preserving the open internet for all. By approving a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Net Neutrality this morning, the Commission moved in a transparent manner to solicit public opinion about this crucial issue.
The goal, according to the FCC, is to eventually adopt "clear, enforceable, common sense rules of the road" meant to keep the door open for continued innovation online, while allowing users access to the broad range of ideas and services today's internet provides.
As we recently mentioned, FMC has long supported net neutrality -- the principle that protects the open internet -- because it gives all artists and entrepreneurs the ability to compete on an equal technological footing with the biggest companies. But a handful of Internet Service Providers want to be able to charge content providers (like musicians) a higher fee for the faster delivery of their sites and services. If you can't afford to (or don't want to) pay, you don't get to play. This would have a devastating effect on the music community -- particularly the independent sector, which depends on open internet platforms to compete in the marketplace.
FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy had the following to say in an official Future of Music statement about the proceedings:
"We're very pleased that the FCC has begun the kind of open and transparent process in its proposed net neutrality rulemaking, which is something FMC has advocated for. There are unprecedented questions to examine as technology keeps evolving at a breathtaking clip, and we're happy that the FCC is taking up these issues in a serious way that encourages participation from a variety of stakeholders, including artists and the public.
Although we're only beginning to get a sense of what a legitimate digital music marketplace looks like, we're encouraged by the ever-increasing variety of licensed services and the amazing and innovative ways artists are using the internet to connect with fans. By undertaking these public proceedings, the Commission's leadership is helping to guarantee that the internet continues to be a place where creativity and commerce can flourish."
Today's draft rules build upon the four principles introduced in the Commission's 2005 Internet Policy Statement, adding two important provisions for non-discrimination of lawful traffic and applications, as well as transparency in Internet Service Provider (ISP) methods of "reasonable network management." The agency is seeking public comment on these proposals, with initial comments due by Jan. 14, 2010 and reply comments due by March 5, 2010.
Need a leg up on all this open internet hullaboo? Check out our Rock the Net campaign for net neutrality, which has more than 1,000 artists (and nearly as many indie labels), including founding members Pearl Jam, OK Go, Kronos Quartet, R.E.M. and Death Cab for Cutie.