Kevin Martin's sudden love of net neutrality

Net Neutrality advocates are cautiously hailing the FCC Commission Chairman’s sudden interest in the cause. Martin said Tuesday that the FCC would act aggressively to ensure that networks are not blocking access to the Internet. Comcast and AT&T have both had complaints about censoring or restricting access to some.

Both Free Press and Public Knowledge urged Martin to follow through on the investigation and enforcement. “Public Knowledge is pleased to see that the chairman and the commission are willing to stand by their principles to protect American consumers,” the group responded Tuesday. “We look forward to FCC proceedings that will determine what are legitimate uses of power by telecom companies and which are not.”

“We are encouraged by the chairman’s statements today about investigating Comcast’s blocking of peer-to-peer traffic,” Free Press said. “We hope the chairman’s statements, made two months after we filed our complaint, will lead to immediate and accelerated action at the FCC on the critical issue of whether Comcast, AT&T and other Internet-service providers can block the services people want to use. The FCC must stop these would-be gatekeepers and fine companies that censor the free flow of information.”

Martin’s position is curious. The FCC is feeling its way around the world of the Web, and would like nothing more than to insert itself in some form of permanent oversight capacity. The question is at what level and how much? Despite a degree of openness in the 700 MHz spectrum auction, many observers didn’t buy the subsequent complaints from the Telcos, because they view Martin as in their pockets. And Martin is a solid supporter and enforcer of the censorship wishes of such staunch conservative groups as the Parents Television Council and others.

So what gives? It’s all politics, folks, and the strange bedfellows it breeds.

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