Copps: FCC Can Impose Net Neutrality

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[SOURCE: Multichannel News, AUTHOR: Ted Hearn]
The Federal Communications Commission has authority under current law to ensure that broadband-access providers -- currently mainly cable and phone companies -- do not discriminate against Web-based providers of content, search services and applications, FCC commissioner Michael Copps said Tuesday. Speaking to reporters, Copps stressed that it was essential for the agency to go beyond hortatory policy principles and adopt enforceable rules that guarantee network neutrality and shield Internet companies without wires into millions of homes from potential misconduct by companies that control those wires. “I think we have authority to go now to the second phase of network neutrality, to make sure that there’s not discrimination against those that are not affiliated with the network owners,” Copps said in a press briefing held in his office . Although some have questioned the FCC authority’s to impose network neutrality on information-service providers under Title I of the Communications Act, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a majority opinion last June indicating otherwise. “The [FCC] remains free to impose special regulatory duties on facilities-based [Internet-service providers] under its Title I ancillary jurisdiction,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in National Cable & Telecommunications Association vs. Brand X Internet Services. Copps indicated that the FCC could rely on Title I authority to act. “I think we have a good bit of authority in serving the public interest in keeping the networks open to move ahead on this,” he said.