Network Neutrality – A Timeline

The FCC should enact regulation that prohibits ISPs from discriminating against users based on usage or application choices in order to ensure that no single group or individual gets preferential bandwidth treatment.

1934: The Communications Act of 1934 designates telecommunications as ‘common carriers,’ subjecting them to FCC regulation as well as protecting them from discriminatory business practices. This sets the stage for the shifting status of data transfer reliant on telecommunications for years to come.

1994: Vice President Al Gore proposes the idea of “net neutrality” at the UCLA Electronic Summit, suggesting that the nascent Internet be a open, equal-opportunity playing field for industrial and public purposes.

1996: Net neutrality as a concept is formally introduced for the first time in the text of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 .

2004: FCC Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell introduces the idea of the “Four Freedoms” of network neutrality. Although somewhat loosely defined, they represent the view the FCC is to take on network neutrality for the coming years.

2005 (June): In the Supreme Court case National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. Brand X Internet Services, cable Internet is defined as an information service rather than a telecommunication service, freeing it from anti-discrimination regulation.

2005 (August): The FCC declares DSL, previously considered a telecommunication service by virtue of operating on phone lines, to be an information service as well. Simultaneously, the FCC adopts an amendment to the “Four Freedoms” policy, declaring that all four must yield to “reasonable network management.”

2006: The Senate Commerce Committee approves the Telecommunications and Opportunities Reform Act, a middle-ground act aimed at appeasing both sides of the growing net neutrality divide without inflaming the issue further.

2007: The Federal Trade Commission warns against the potential economic repercussions of legislation-backed net neutrality in an annual report.

2008: The FCC rules that Comcast, in pending litigation from a 2007 case raised against them for blocking or severely limiting internet access for customers running applications utilizing BitTorrent software, was acting illegally by influencing how customers could access the Internet.

2009: President Obama sets a precedent for the direction the Internet should take by establishing to help ensure a high level transparency and accountability in the allocation and use of funds outlined in the Recovery Act specifically through the use of the Internet.

Search, but You May Not Find (The importance of net neutrality applies not only to ISPs, but also to search providers such as Google. Without net neutrality legislation in place, such search providers can conceivably dictate what kind of content the public can access, or at least find.)

RIAA: Net neutrality shouldn’t inhibit antipiracy (File sharing battles are greatly affected by net neutrality as well – lobbyists from the recording industry seek to lessen net neutrality regulations so that companies are free to combat data piracy.)

Why the Right Is Wrong About Net Neutrality (Net neutrality is starting to become a partisan issue as the political parties line up on one side or another, adding another level of complication to an already complex issue.)

Comments Roll In on FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules (Industry and consumer responses to FCC legislation defending net neutrality are often drastically different and diverse even within their respective groups. Polarization by the parties only goes so far.)

Comcast, FCC take net neutrality dispute to court (Internet service providers are held responsible by the FCC for maintaining free access to the Internet, reinforcing neutrality principles on an infrastructural level.)

The nature of net neutrality is complex and multifaceted, as seen in the diverse selection of news stories on the topic. Topics range from the standard infrastructural concerns expressed by the stories on ISPs (Comcast) and the information industry to the related commercial interests of and impact on other industries such as the RIAA (specifically in its war against data piracy) and the idea of neutrality on the web itself, and represented by the great degree in which search engines control access to content. The controversy over the importance and form of net neutrality also naturally begins to bleed over into partisan politics with its great importance to each of the party’s constituents, as represented in opinion pieces in partisan news sources, such as the Huffington Post article listed above.

(Note: Edited for accidentally removed content, clarity, and tags.)


One Response to “Network Neutrality – A Timeline”

  1. […] Network Neutrality – 10 Sources Topic: Network Neutrality […]

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