Congress Wrestles with Net Neutrality

Net neutrality, the principle that all content on the Internet can be accessed equally, received both a boost and a setback in Congress this week, as both the House and Senate introduced new legislation that could affect how consumers access the Web in virtually every way.

Later in the article, they talk about the new House bill that might help;

In his statement advocating the bill, Markey said that “Broadband network owners should not be able to determine who can and who cannot offer services over broadband networks or over the Internet.”

“The Network Neutrality Act of 2006 offers [Congress] a clear choice,” Markey said. “It is a choice between favoring the broadband designs of a small handful of very large companies, and safeguarding the dreams of thousands of inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.”

arstechnica.com’s Nate Anderson also reports on this issue in his No love for network neutrality in the Senate article:

More controversially, the draft legislation endorses both video and audio flags (page 97 and following), though it does provide some exemptions for fair use. For the video flag, the bill directs the FCC to implement and oversee the technology, but it does direct the Commission to ensure that any proposed flag 1) allows consumers to transmit short television clips over the Internet, 2) allows them to broadcast digital television over a home network, 3) allows government and education users to view copyrighted content for distance learning purposes, and 4) permits the redistribution of news content. It also makes sure that any DRM or flag technology can be licensed at reasonable and nondiscriminatory rates.

The audio flag is designed to prevent excessive recording from HD radio and satellite radio. To this end, the FCC is directed to form a Digital Audio Review Board made up of members from every involved industry and the general public. The board will be an ad hoc body that has authority to draft the audio flag rules, which it will then submit to the FCC for enactment.

Finally, expect to pay more taxes, as the Universal Service Fee (USF) could soon be coming to your broadband connection. The lengthy section dealing with the USF (page 12 and following) would apply the fee to all communications services that operate faster than 200 kbps. If the bill passes, expect to see a USF charge show up on your broadband bill.

This just gets worse and worse….

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