Martin Praised for Internet Stands

Copyright Alliance, Public Knowledge Back FCC Chairman

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin was praised from various quarters Tuesday after his testimony at a hearing on the future of the Internet.

Martin said only legal content was protected by the FCC's open-access policy guidelines and filtering out illegal transmissions would be considered reasonable network management that the FCC allows.

“However policymakers choose to address the issue of network management," said Patrick Ross of the Copyright Alliance in response to that stance, "it is important to remember the FCC chairman’s reiteration of the fact that illegal activity deserves no protection online. The principle of copyright is no less important in the digital world than it is in the physical world, and it is significant and heartening that the chairman would specifically point out the distinction between legal and infringing content in a statement of policy.”

Martin also said at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing that the FCC should treat with "heightened scrutiny" any network-management techniques that appear to selectively target certain applications.

He said that while such conduct does not de facto violate openness principles, the network would be under an affirmative obligation to show that the conduct was narrowly tailored to achieve an important outcome.

That pleased Public Knowledge, which is often on the other side of the issues from the Copyright Alliance.

“FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s testimony today before the Senate Commerce Committee was right on the money when he said the commission should take very seriously whether Internet network management by a cable or telephone company ‘arbitrarily blocks or degrades a particular application,’” Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn said.

“While we continue to support legislation to make certain that the Internet is guided by nondiscrimination principles that are well established in law, we are encouraged by the chairman’s statement today that the he is willing to defend some measure of nondiscrimination in proceedings before the agency,” she added.