Federal regulators this week took the first formal step into investigating complaints about how Internet service providers, such as Comcast, manage peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic on their networks.
The Federal Communications Commission late on Monday posted requests for public comment about two such petitions, both of which deal with the question of what practices constitute "reasonable network management"--and therefore jibe with the FCC's policies.
One petition was filed in November by a collection of consumer advocacy groups that supports Net neutrality regulations, including Free Press, Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, and Consumers Union. Responding to reports that Comcast was throttling BitTorrent traffic, they asked the FCC to declare that "degrading peer-to-peer traffic" violates the FCC's Internet policy statement, which says consumers can generally use the applications and access the Web sites of their choosing, with an exception for "reasonable network management."
The second related petition came from Vuze, a file-sharing application that specializes in videos. The firm asked the FCC to "clarify" what it means by "reasonable network management" and, clearly in an attempt to protect its service, "to establish that such network management does not permit network operators to block, degrade or unreasonably discriminate against lawful Internet applications, content or technologies."
A third petition, filed jointly by many of the same consumer groups that filed the peer-to-peer petition, asks the FCC to declare that text-messaging services are subject to a portion of federal communications law that bars telecommunications companies from engaging in "any unjust or unreasonable discrimination" related to charges, services, and other practices. The request, filed in December, appears to stem primarily from a situation in which Verizon Wireless initially refused to carry text messages from a prominent reproductive rights activist group.
Anyone who has something to say about the petitions will have until February 13 to do so at the FCC's Web site or by postal mail. After reviewing the comments, the FCC is expected to decide whether to grant what the petitioners are requesting.
Direct link to file a comment: link
reference WC Docket no. 07-52
This is a rare chance to effect Internet policies that effect you!!!
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