The Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules, which prevent your broadband ISP from blocking websites, but provides wireless providers with added clemency. Tim Conneally, a writer at betanews, has published the most clear-cut overview of what these rules are and what they mean:
Basic Rules for fixed Broadband
- Transparency: Carriers must clearly express to consumers how their traffic is handled and how charges are derived.
- No Blocking: This refers to services which may compete directly with the network operator, such as VoIP and streaming video.
- No Unreasonable Discrimination: This general rule means paid traffic prioritization will not be allowed, but "reasonable" network management practices are acceptable. What is "reasonable" can be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Basic Rules for Mobile Broadband
- Transparency: Like fixed broadband providers, mobile network operators must also be open and transparent about their policies.
- No Blocking: Network owners cannot block access to lawful Websites or applications that compete with voice and video telephony services such as Google Voice. This, however, does not generally apply to providers engaged in the operation of their own app stores.
"Today, for the first time, we are adopting rules to preserve basic Internet values," said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. "For the first time, we'll have enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness." These rules will not go into effect until early next year, but legal challenges or action from Congress could block the FCC's action. What does this mean for music? It seems as if it will remain unscathed by these rules. Some of our fears are squashed. For now.