FCC votes to move net neutrality rules forward

Genachowski had the full support of Democratic Commissioners Micheal Copps and Mignon Clyburn, as expected. Republican Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Atwell Baker dissented on the idea that government regulation is needed to keep the Internet open, but supported the beginning of a fact-finding process to learn more about the technical and legal questions surrounding net neutrality.

"We face the dangerous combination of an uncertain legal framework with ongoing as well as emerging challenges to a free and open Internet," Genachowski said. "Given the potentially huge consequences of having the open Internet diminished through inaction, the time is now to move forward with consideration of fair and reasonable rules of the road, rules that would be enforceable and implemented on a case-by-case basis."

The draft rules are not perfect or set in stone, he said, but they serve as the basis for the beginning of the process. He also announced the development of a Technical Advisory Process, "so that the difficult engineering questions we face are fully informed by a broad range of engineers based on sound engineering principles and not on politics."

Copps and Clyburn reiterated their positions that enforceable rules governing the flow of information over the Internet is essential to maintain an even playing field, where no application or piece of content has an advantage over another.

"Consumers are the deciders of which businesses thrive at the end of the day," Clyburn said. "That's what this is about — preventing barriers to entry and ensuring Americans have access to the most useful information."

McDowell and Baker maintained their position that there is not sufficient evidence that the Internet needs regulation. Still, they both said they were in favor of a lengthy comment period and healthy debate on the issue.

"I do not share the majority's view that the Internet is showing breaks and cracks and I do not agree the government should be the one to fix it," McDowell said.