FCC requests comments on plan for free, censored broadband

We previously reported that the FCC plans to provide universal wireless broadband with content filtering. In a press release on Friday, June 20th they request comments on the plan to license access to the 2.1GHz Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS). The winning bidder must use 25% of the spectrum for free two-way broadband Internet service at a minimum rate of 768kps downstream. They must be able to provide the free service to 50% of the U.S in four years and at least 95% by the end of the 10-year license term.

Wendy Seltzer discusses the content filtering provision on her blog today. She notes the requirement that

Should any commercially-available network filters installed not be capable of reviewing certain types of communications, such as peer-to-peer file sharing, the licensee may use other means, such as limiting access to those types of communications as part of the AWS-3 free broadband service, to ensure that inappropriate content…not be accessible as part of the service.

She argues “You’d have to block anything you didn’t understand: new protocols, encrypted traffic, even texts in other languages …. Mandated filtering is the antithesis of dumb-pipe Internet, forcing design choices that limit our inventive and communicative opportunity.”

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