Net Neutrality Legislative Proposal

Seth Johnson seth.johnson at
Mon Jul 10 19:25:55 UTC 2006

Hello folks, please consider endorsing this legislative proposal
on net neutrality.  It's a bit different from the others you may
have heard of . . .


This bill focuses on net neutrality in terms of the IP protocol,
rather than the "equal treatment" and "nondiscrimination"
application-layer policy approaches you usually hear about.

One of the Intro pages from the site above, and the legislative
Language, are pasted below.

Coverage on Infoworld:


David Weinberger on Stevens and a Commentary by David Reed:


Here's a link to a research paper by Dave Clark, et al. that
identifies the IP protocol as the "spanning layer" that assures
innovation across hardware and protocols:

Seth Johnson



Two Types of Neutrality

So far, much of the argument over "net neutrality" has been over
whether service providers should be allowed to favor one
application, destination or Internet service over another. This
is Net neutrality at the application layer. But the real issue is
the neutrality of the IP layer where routers treat alike bits
from every type of application. This neutrality is what makes the
Internet flexible -- while it also assures uniform treatment of
information flow. If this neutrality is not maintained, the
Internet will be changed fundamentally. It will no longer be the
flexible, open platform that allows anyone with a good idea to
compete on a level ground.

IP-layer neutrality is not a property of the Internet. It is the
Internet. The Internet is a set of agreements (protocols) that
enable networks to work together. The heart of the Internet
protocol is the agreement that all data packets will be passed
through without regard to which application created them or
what's inside of them. This reliable, uniform treatment of
packets is precisely what has made the Internet a marketplace of
innovation so critical to our economy.

Providers certainly should be allowed to develop services within
their own networks, treating data any way they want. But that's
not the Internet. If they want to participate in the Internet,
they need to follow the protocols that have been developed over
the course of more than thirty years through consensus standards
processes. Nor should they be permitted to single-handedly
subvert the authority of the processes that have developed and
maintained the Internet.

We call on Congress to end the confusion and protect not only the
Internet but the tens of millions of American citizens who need
to know that when they buy Internet access, they're getting
access to the real Internet. Network providers who offer services
that depend on violating IP-layer neutrality should be prohibited
from labeling those services as "Internet," as their doing so
will only undermine the weight of consensus authority presently
accorded to the existing standards. The term "Internet"
represents specific standards that provide IP-layer neutral
connectivity that supports the openness of access and innovation
that have been the defining characteristics of the Internet since
its origins.

To that end, we present the attached draft legislative language
and call for concerned citizens and members of Congress to offer
their support for passing it into law.




      This Act may be cited as the "Internet Platform for 
      Innovation Act of 2006".

SEC. 2. FINDINGS. The Congress finds the following:

      (1) The Internet is the most successful means of 
          communication ever developed, connecting people of all 
          walks of life across the globe and enabling 
          unprecedented flexibility in applications and 
          unfettered exchange of information and ideas.

      (2) The success of the Internet is built on the 
          establishment of certain commonly observed principles 
          of practice, expressed in “Internet protocols,” 
          governing the manner in which transmissions are 
          exchanged.  Interoperation among competing Internet 
          providers on the basis of these principles assures that 
          the Internet remains a generic, flexible platform that 
          supports innovation and free expression.

      (3) This flexible platform, commonly referred to as the “IP 
          layer” of the Internet, enables users to independently 
          develop innovative applications by devising rules and 
          conventions describing how information transmitted 
          between connected users will be interpreted in order to 
          serve diverse purposes.  The vast collection of 
          applications that have been freely created in this 
          manner is commonly referred to as the “application 
          layer” of the Internet.

      (4) The Internet protocols that created this architecture 
          have been developed and maintained by globally 
          recognized standards bodies through participatory 
          processes that work to develop optimal engineering 
          designs and establish the consensus necessary for 

      (5) Among the commonly-observed principles of practice that 
          govern Internet transmissions are the following:

          a) Transmissions are broken down into small pieces 
             referred to as "packets," comprised of small 
             portions of the overall information useful to the 
             users at each transmission's endpoints.  A small set 
             of data is prefixed to these packets, describing the 
             source and destination of each packet and how it is 
             to be treated.

          b) Internet routers transmit these packets to various 
             other routers, changing routers freely as a means of 
             managing network flow.

          c) Internet routers transmit packets independently of 
             each other and independently of the applications 
             that the packets are supporting.

      (6) These principles governing the IP layer establish a 
          technical behavior that not only assures the platform's 
          flexibility, but also assures its reliability, 
          availability, universal accessibility, and uniform 
          treatment of information flow.  The IP layer assures 
          that all applications may compete on a level basis of 
          connectivity, be they commercially developed by a major 
          corporation and made available to millions, or non-
          commercial applications developed by individuals and 
          offered at no charge.

      (7) These principles of practice are commonly understood 
          and recognized as features of existing, commonly-
          observed communications standards defining the behavior 
          of the Internet transport. 

      (8) This settled understanding of the Internet, based on 
          an architecture created by well-recognized standards 
          bodies, leading to user expectations about the 
          accessibility and behavior of the Internet, is what
          "the Internet" has come to mean to users in the United 
          States and around the world.

      (9) Network providers who analyze and interpret the types 
          of applications being conveyed within packets at the IP 
          layer in order to offer special service features 
          (including but not limited to prioritized delivery) 
          intrinsically favor particular application designs that 
          they recognize over competing ones.  This practice 
          therefore works at odds with the flexibility and other 
          desirable features of the IP layer brought about by the 
          above-described principles of practice. They depend, 
          for their success, on the neutral platform afforded at 
          the IP layer, even as they upset the neutrality of the 
          IP layer to benefit services best offered at the 
          application layer.

     (10) Network providers who offer special treatment for 
          specific types of applications by identifying the 
          applications being conveyed by packets, presently face 
          competition from providers who provide neutral networks 
          by means of the above principles, as well as from the 
          diversity of applications, flexibility, uniform 
          treatment of information flow, availability and access 
          made possible by these networks.

     (11) If network providers in the United States were given 
          support in legislation for presenting as "Internet" 
          services that diverge from the above global principles 
          of practice, as they offer special treatment of packet 
          transmissions on the basis of identifying particular 
          types of applications, the result would be to:

          a) supplant and undermine the consensus authority 
             currently accorded to existing international 
             protocols and standards-making processes;

          b) impair innovation and competition by undermining the 
             flexibility and other desirable features afforded by 
             the technical behavior of the Internet transport as 
             described above;

          c) deny consumers the expectation of quality and 
             breadth of service globally associated with the 
             Internet; and

          d) suppress freedom of speech within the United States, 
             while the people of other nations continue to enjoy 
             unabridged Internet communications;

     (12) It is in the national interest to

          a) support the international consensus authority that 
             gave rise to the current IP layer and associated 

          b) encourage innovation in the applications layer of 
             the Internet through the flexibility, reliability, 
             availability, and accessibility afforded by the 
             commonly established principles of practice 
             expressed in existing consensus standards for the IP 
             layer; and

          c) assure consumers in the United States that the 
             globally accessible and open architecture of the 
             Internet will be preserved even as some Internet 
             access providers may choose to compete in offering 
             additional features to their customers. 


      (1) Definitions.— As used in this Section: 

         (A) Internet.— The term “Internet” means the worldwide, 
             publicly accessible system of interconnected 
             computer networks that transmit data by packet 
             switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP), 
             some characteristics of which include:

             i) Transmissions between users who hold globally 
                reachable addresses, and which transmissions are 
                broken down into smaller segments referred to as 
                "packets" comprised of a small portion of 
                information useful to the users at each 
                transmission's endpoints, and a small set of 
                prefixed data describing the source and 
                destination of each transmission and how the 
                packet is to be treated; 

            ii) routers that transmit these packets to various 
                other routers on a best efforts basis, changing 
                routers freely as a means of managing network 
                flow; and 

           iii) said routers transmit packets independently of 
                each other and independently of the particular 
                application in use, in accordance with globally 
                defined protocol requirements and 

         (B) Internet access.— The term “Internet access” means 
             a service that enables users to transmit and receive 
             transmissions of data using the Internet Protocol in 
             a manner that is agnostic to the nature, source or 
             destination of the transmission of any packet.  Such 
             IP transmissions may include information, text, 
             sounds, images and other content such as messaging 
             and electronic mail.

      (2) Any person engaged in interstate commerce that charges 
          a fee for the provision of Internet access must in fact 
          provide access to the Internet in accord with the above 
          definition, regardless whether additional proprietary 
          content, information or other services are also 
          provided as part of a package of services offered to 

      (3) Network providers that offer special features based on 
          analyzing and identifying particular applications being 
          conveyed by packet transmissions must not describe 
          these services as "Internet" services.  Any 
          representation as to the speed or “bandwidth” of the 
          Internet access shall be limited to the speed or 
          bandwidth allocated to Internet access. 

      (4) Unfair or Deceptive Act or Practice- A violation of 
          paragraphs 2 or 3 shall be treated as a violation of a 
          rule defining an unfair or deceptive act or practice 
          prescribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal 
          Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)). The 
          Federal Trade Commission shall enforce this Act in the 
          same manner, by the same means, and with the same 
          jurisdiction as though all applicable terms and 
          provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act were 
          incorporated into and made a part of this Act.

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