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Consumer choice always assured by regulatory safeguards Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 08:39:13

NetMyth: The Internet has never been regulated.

NetFact: Until FCC decisions made last summer, consumers’ ability to choose the content and services they want via their broadband connections had always been assured by regulatory safeguards.

In the zone of governmental noninterference that has surrounded the Internet, there has always been one fundamental exception: from the Internet's inception, it has always operated under minimal non-discrimination requirements for the so-called last mile to consumers. Developed by the FCC over a decade before the commercial advent of the Internet, these rules required that the underlying providers of last-mile network facilities – the incumbent local telephone companies – allow end users to access Internet content and services of their choosing, and utilize any device they desired - without interference from the network operator.

These consumer safeguards allowed the Internet itself to remain as open and “unregulated” as was designed originally. This open platform became the heart and soul of the Internet. It is hard to imagine the innovation and creativity of the commercial Internet ever occurring in the 1990s without those minimal but necessary market safeguards already in place. By removing any possibility of interference or discrimination from the network provider this policy paved the way for an explosion in what some have called “innovation without permission.” We witnessed the products of fertile minds like Tim Berners-Lee with the World Wide Web, and Yair Goldfinger with Instant Messaging, and David Filo and Jerry Yang with Yahoo!, and Jeff Bezos with Amazon. And we all have benefited enormously from their myriad inventions.

Net Neutrality Matters. Protect the Open Internet.