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Post Endorses Google/Verizon-Like Approach

The Washington Post has endorsed the Google-Verizon policy proposal for Internet openness regulation, or “something like” it, while saying that the FCC’s proposal to reclassify broadband transmissions as a Title II common carrier service subject to only some of those regs “would be a serious step backward.”

That is either yet another shot by the Post at FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s policies (see below) or, looked at another way, provides cover if the FCC is leaning away from that Title II and toward “straight from the Congress’ mouth” approach.

Google and Verizon have both said they were encouraged by the government to come up with a compromise, and were part of the FCC-hosted talks on legislative language.

In an editorial Thursday, the paper provided the better late than never disclosure that it is a provider of both content and Internet access, and said that allowing the FCC to endorse openness principles on a “case-by-case” basis would be preferable to “stifling innovation with unwieldy preemptive regulations.”

The paper did not weigh in on either of the two arguably most talked-about proposals in the plan, which are to allow for managed services (priority treatment) for services delivered via broadband but not over the public Internet, and exempting wireless broadband providers, which the FCC sees as a key broadband delivery system of the future, from almost all of those openness principles.

“While I certainly do not agree with all aspects of the Google-Verizon proposal, the Post is correct in urging that the agreement provides a good starting point for pursuing legislation that provides the FCC with delimited authority over Internet providers,” said Free State Foundation’s Randolph May in response to the paper’s position.

The Post took aim at the FCCs’ network neutrality position in an editorial last fall as well (”Federal regulators should not be telling Internet service providers how to run their businesses”) after the commission signaled it would initiate a rule-making codifying and expanding its network neutrality principles.

One difference this time is that the paper disclosed its vested interests in the issue, an omission I pointed out, or at least tried to, to the paper’s ombudsperson at the time.