Feeds

FTC to referee net neut 'Dystopian nightmare' feud

The Rhetoric Police

Intelligent flash storage arrays

To date, the FCC has refereed the ongoing feud between the net neuts and the anti-net neuts. But that may be changing.

Over the weekend, the new chair of the US Federal Trade Commission, the FTC, said the organization may start to enforce a kind of net neutrality alongside the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC.

"In a perfect marketplace, where you have more competitors, you wouldn't need the government necessarily to be terribly involved," Obama appointee Jon Leibowitz said Saturday during an appearance on the US cable news network C-SPAN. "We haven't seen discrimination yet based on content or applications that have contracted with the provider or that are the provider's content or applications.

"If we do see that, then it could raise anti-trust problems. And of course, we're a consumer protection agency, and we believe that consumers should have notice and consent on what they're getting."

Such would be a significant change in policy for the FTC, the organization charged with both consumer protection and anti-trust enforcement. In the summer 2007, while still under the thumb of a man called W, the commission issued a report that the US gov should take a hands-off approach to the net neutrality debate.

The report recommended that "policy makers proceed with caution in the evolving, dynamic industry of broadband Internet access, which generally is moving toward more - not less - competition. In the absence of significant market failure or demonstrated consumer harm, policy makers should be particularly hesitant to enact new regulation in this area."

It's no secret that Barack Obama is a net neut. But Leibowitz seems to recognize the ridiculous behavior on both sides of the debate. Prior to the release of the commission's 2007, he said, "Each side spun this story of like Dystopian nightmares if the other side's policy prescriptions were going to come true.

"It seems to me there could be - and I'm hopeful going forward on this issue - a toning down of the rhetoric."

Leibowitz said that it's "very, very important" that internet service providers tell consumers what speeds they're getting and "whether they're making any types of management decisions in terms of the network that affect consumers." He acknowledged that ISPs should be allowed to charge more for more bandwidth, but he also insisted that consumers should be properly notified beforehand. "You can't just surprise someone with a bill."

The new FTC chair was asked about the commission's Google investigation, but though he acknowledged the probe, he wouldn't say much more. "We can say that we are investigating Google for a violation of the interlocking directorates provision that prohibits competitors for sitting on each others boards," he said.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitted as much late last week. Schmidt sits on both the Google and Apple boards and said he has no intention of stepping down from his Apple post. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.