Fox News guest Seton Motley claimed that net neutrality means "discrimination of content" and "socialism for the Internet" that would prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from "manag[ing] the network." In fact, net neutrality does not discriminate against lawful content, and the Obama administration's net neutrality proposal calls for giving ISPs "meaningful flexibility to manage their networks."
Motley: Net Neutrality Means ISPs Can't "Manage The Network"
Motley, editor in chief of StopNetRegulation.org, said on the December 16 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
MOTLEY: There's basically two facets of net neutrality with which we have to be concerned. There's tiered pricing, which the left is against, and discrimination of content, which they are for. Let's talk about discrimination of content first. OK, you and I live next door to one another. You're downloading a movie, I'm updating my Twitter account. At that moment, you need more Internet than I do. So you -- the Internet service provider manages the network. They give you more Internet than I get, you're done with your movie, they move it over here. Comcast gets a million URL requests a second --
ANDREW NAPOLITANO (guest host): All right, what does the government wants to do to this relationship?
MOTLEY: They say you can't do that. They say you can't manage the network. It's socialism for the Internet, everyone gets equal amounts of zero -- of nothing. They try to say that -- and no matter what you're doing, you cannot get any more bandwidth than the person next to you. It's like saying to the fire department, that house is on fire, that house is brushing its teeth, they get the same amount of water. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 12/16/10]
Net Neutrality Does Not Control Content Or Bar ISPs From Managing Their Networks
CRS: Net Neutrality Means Providers Can't Control How Consumers Lawfully Use Network. Contrary to claims that net neutrality allows the government to control content on the Internet, the Congressional Research Service states that net neutrality is the principle that "owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network; and should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network." [Congressional Research Service, 9/16/08]
Open Internet Coalition: "Net Neutrality Was A Founding Principle Of The Internet." The Open Internet Coalition -- a group that includes Amazon, eBay, Google, Sony, and YouTube -- explains net neutrality:
The principle of net neutrality is about keeping the hands of several powerful network operators -- AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast -- off the Internet, preventing them from taking steps to change the basic open nature of the Net that has led to its success. Net neutrality keeps the Internet as a free and open marketplace, so that a small number of telephone and cable monopolies can't choke off competition and innovation.
Net neutrality was a founding principle of the Internet, and was the law of the land until 2005. The courts and the regulators changed the rules in 2005 when they eliminated the nondiscrimination requirements that had applied for decades to phone service and, up to that point, to most residential Internet access. Implementing net neutrality is a return to the basic principles that make the Internet work for consumers and innovators. [Open Internet Coalition, accessed 12/17/10]
FCC Chief: "Broadband Providers Need Meaningful Flexibility To Manage Their Networks." In outlining his framework to "protect Internet freedom and openness" -- described as his net neutrality proposal -- during a December 1 speech, Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski said:
The proposed framework also recognizes that broadband providers must have the ability and investment incentives to build out and run their networks. Universal high-speed Internet access is a vital national goal that will require very substantial private sector investment in our 21st century digital infrastructure. For our global competitiveness, and to harness the opportunities of broadband for all Americans, we want world-leading broadband networks in the United States that are both the freest and the fastest in the world.
To this end, broadband providers need meaningful flexibility to manage their networks -- for example, to deal with traffic that's harmful to the network or unwanted by users, and to address the effects of congestion. Reasonable network management is an important part of the proposal, recognizing that what is reasonable will take account of the network technology and architecture involved.
The record also demonstrates the importance of business innovation to promote network investment and efficient use of networks, including measures to match price to cost such as usage-based pricing. [OpenInternet.gov, 12/1/10, accessed 12/17/10]
FCC Chief Endorses Usage-Based Pricing. Genachowski said, "Our work has also demonstrated the importance of business innovation to promote network investment and efficient use of networks, including measures to match price to cost such as usage-based pricing." [Network World, 12/2/10]
ISPs Already Restrict Bandwidth. According to InformationWeek, the Max Planck Institute released a study in 2008 showing that Comcast "has engaged in routine blocking or throttling of BitTorrent files at all hours of the day -- not just in periods of 'peak congestion' as the company has claimed." The study "also shows that cable rival Cox Communications also delays BitTorrent file-sharing activity, which has been estimated to consume a large percentage of traffic across the Internet." InformationWeek added that "The Comcast-BitTorrent dispute has become a flash point in the ongoing debate over 'net neutrality' and the obligation of Internet providers to offer consistent and transparent levels of service to all users, regardless of protocols, applications, or bandwidth levels." In April 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC lacks the authority to regulate such behavior. [InformationWeek, 5/15/08; The Washington Post, 4/7/10]