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FCCs net neutrality rules a compromise

by Kelly MacNeil on December 22, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Tuesday to pass a new set of net neutrality rules that aim to protect web traffic. The guidelines should prevent broadband providers from restricting user activity or the actions of competing services by prioritizing traffic to certain websites over others.

"Today's decision will help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet while encouraging innovation, protecting consumer choice, and defending free speech," Obama said in a statement.

The vote passed by a 3-2 margin, drawing criticism from the Commission's two Republicans who feared the rules would limit the free market innovation and investment capacity of the internet.

These views represented the general sentiment of many right-wing opposers, while left-wing critics felt that the rules were too lax and contained too many loopholes, limiting broadband connections but not wireless and smart phone access.

However, the White House largely approved the compromise, which FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has been working on for over a year and which has been part of a White House controversy for the past five years.

According to The Associated Press, the issue was highlighted in 2007 when Comcast partially blocked traffic from the file-sharing service BitTorrent, claiming it was slowing down the network.

The new rules require broadband providers to allow users to access all forms of legal online content while making their spam-regulating procedures known to the public. They also include a measure to begin charging subscribers based on their level of internet activity.

The involved parties have not yet had a chance to review the regulations, which are more than 80 pages long and are not yet public, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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