Preserve the Internet Standards for Network Neutrality

Facing Reality on "Network Neutrality"

Is there a place for fresh thinking and new recommendations in the infamous "network neutrality" debate? The advocates below suggest there is. In the following document we recommend the prosecution of distorted offerings of Internet connectivity as "deceptive practice."

When several incumbent telephone carriers announced their plans to give preferential treatment to favored Internet sites, a wide range of Internet users and designers felt in their guts that it somehow violated the very meaning of the term "Internet." On the other hand, many of these people feel uncomfortable letting Congress set parameters for Internet service. It is safer to deal with Internet offerings as a market issue, not to legislate fundamental protocols or router behavior.

As a way to break the impasse, we offer the following draft language. We believe the gut feeling -- that one cannot discriminate and still call the service "Internet" -- is founded in reality. The very term "Internet" suggests that participants assume their traffic will be passed without interference; the concept is backed up by over thirty years of standards and ISP behavior.

In effect, under the present circumstances, the system of developing specifications, which involves the writing and review of formal documents known as RFCs, which has held since the beginning of the Internet, would be tossed out by a few large providers and equipment manufacturers and replaced by corporate fiat. The loss of an open, consistent, and predictable platform would also crimp innovation at higher levels.

Thus, we recommend that Congress clarify the meaning of offering Internet connectivity and set up rules for the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the definition.


(Affiliations listed for identification only)

Pete Ashdown, Founder & President, XMission
John Bachir, Lead Developer, Lyceum
Daniel Berninger, Senior Analyst, Tier1 Research
Dana Blankenhorn, journalist
Dave Burstein, Editor, DSL Prime
Steven Cherry, Senior Associate Editor, IEEE Spectrum
Gordon Cook, Editor, Publisher and Owner since 1992 of the COOK Report on Internet Protocol
Susan Crawford, Associate Professor of Law, Cardozo Law School
Cynthia H. de Lorenzi, Washington Bureau for ISP Advocacy
Ray English, Director of Libraries, Oberlin College
Miles R. Fidelman, President, The Center for Civic Networking
Richard Forno (bio:
Bob Frankston, Telecommunications Analyst and Visionary
Paul Ginsparg, Cornell University
Lucas Gonze, founder, Webjay
Bob Gregory, I. T. Manager, Community Action Opportunities
Chris Grigg, Music Standards Engineer and Recording Artist
Michael Gurstein, Chair: Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN)
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO, Dandin Group
Eric Hensal, Managing Partner, Murray Hill Group
Paul Hyland, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
David S. Isenberg, Ph.D., Founder & CEO,, LLC
Saleem Jahangeer, Ph.D.
Seth Johnson, New Yorkers for Fair Use
Paul Jones, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Peter D. Junger, Professor of Law Emeritus, Case Western Reserve University
Joe Karaganis, Social Science Research Council
Bruce Kushnick, chairman, Teletruth
Michael Maranda, President, Association For Community Networking
Kevin Marks, mediAgora
W. Scott McCollough, Esq.
Sascha Meinrath, Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network, Free Press
Wilson Michaels, Senior Software Developer
Edward Mills, Independent Technology Consultant
John Mitchell, InteractionLaw
Steve Mossbrook, President,
Kenneth G. Olthoff, EFF Austin Advisory Board
Andy Oram, Editor, O'Reilly Media
Dave Pentecost, documentary television producer
Bruce Perens, VP Sourcelabs, Co-founder of the Open Source initiative
Jan L. Peterson, Software Developer
David P. Reed, contributor to original Internet Protocol design
Michael Robertson, CEO, MP3tunes, Gizmo5
David Rosen, Ed.D., Senior Associate, Newsome Associates
Lawrence Rosen, Rosenlaw & Einschlag; Stanford University Lecturer in Law
Pamela Samuelson, Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Berkeley
Clay Shirky, Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University
Jay Sulzberger, New Yorkers for Fair Use
Rahul Tongia, Ph.D., Systems Scientist, School of Computer Science (ISRI) / Dept. of Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Siva Vaidhyanathan, Department of Culture and Communication, New York University
Eric F. Van de Velde, Ph.D., Director, Library Information Technology, California Institute of Technology
Esme Vos, Founder, Muniwireless
David Weinberger, Fellow, Harvard Berkman Center
Michael J. Weisman, JD, LLM, Technology and Intellectual Property Law and Policy
Diana Woodhouse, Technology & Systems Support, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple Computer, Inc., Member, National Academy of Engineers
Brett Wynkoop, Wynn Data Ltd.


Seth Johnson
(212) 543-4266