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Cerf Sets Record Straight

Vinton Cerf, chief Internet evangelist for Google, has written Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens saying he definitely does not believe that net neutrality legislation is "unnecessary this year."

Stevens is working on getting enough votes--60--to bring a video franchise reform bill to the Senate floor in September, where a net neutrality amendment could be introduced, though there is not a specific net neutrality provision in the bill as it stands.

Cerf was referring to what he said were quotes of his in a July 4 story in Reuters that were taken out of context by net neutrality opponents to make the "absurd" assertion. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said, repeating his contention that without "meaningful" anti-discrimination protections, "discriminatory behavior on the part of network operators is inevitable."

Google and other computer companies are concerned that because the FCC reclassified cable and Internet broadband as an information service not subject to mandatory access requirements, those networks are able to discriminate against Internet content providers on economic or political grounds, potentially turning the info highway into a toll road that discourages innovative start-ups without the price of the fast lane. Networks argue they will not discriminate, that the FCC already has the power to pursue violators of its general nondiscriminatory guidelines, but that it needs the flexibility to manage its networks and get a return on the investment it takes to build them.

Odds are lengthening for a franchise reform bill to pass this session.