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Report: FCC chair set to defend Net neutrality

By Matthew Shaer / September 18, 2009



On Monday, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, will propose that Internet Service Providers be forbidden from blocking users with slow web connections.

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That's the report from the Wall Street Journal today, and it's spread some good cheer among advocates of a wide open World Wide Web.

At issue is "Net neutrality" – the principle, as Andrew LaVallee of the Journal puts it, that "all Internet providers should treat all data equally and avoid restricting or delaying access to certain sites." Over the past few years, many large ISPs, including Comcast, have pushed back against previous FCC efforts to enforce net neutrality.

The reasoning: Users with slow connections can jam up the Internet for everyone else. Plus, Comcast owns the company, so Comcast should be able to make the rules. But public interest groups have argued that consumers would benefit from a law enforcing Net neutrality.

Ben Scott, the policy director at the nonprofit institute Free Press, said in a statement that he welcomed FCC intervention:

If the commission moves forward on network neutrality, it will achieve the president's signature tech policy agenda item. And it's a firm move to protect the open Internet for consumers and producers of content in a competitive marketplace of speech and commerce.

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Could lawsuit mean the end of Skype as we know it?

Earlier this month, eBay announced that it would sell web phone service Skype, which it bought in 2005 for $3.1 billion. The recipients: Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and a group of private investors. The price tag: $2.75 billion. Now, that deal appears to be in danger.

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