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MMTC: Shame, Not Regs, Can Protect Net Consumers

Saying the Internet has its own inherent
"shaming culture," the Minority Media & Telecommunications
Council (MMTC) has asked the FCC not to impose "draconian enforcement
mechanisms" in its effort to protect consumers.

MMTC, which said it was speaking on behalf of two
dozen minority and civil rights groups, said it supported five out the six
proposed network neutrality guidelines the FCC is proposing to codify, but has
issues with the nondiscrimination principle.

That came in comments filed in the FCC's network
neutrality proceeding. The commission had asked for comment on applying its
network neutrality rules to managed services that are not delivered to homes
over the last-mile "public Internet," and to wireless broadband
services, whose network management issues are different from wired due to the
technology involved (traffic can almost instantly spike depending on where and
when large groups of folks with cell phones and smart phones get together).

As it has in the past, MMTC expressed
reservations about applying the net neutrality rules to wireless and said it
doesn't want the commission prohibiting "pro-consumer voluntary agreements
for the provision of specialized services."

MMTC also took the opportunity to tell the
FCC it has a moral duty to ensure that its network neutrality rules,
which MMTC has "deep concerns" about, do not "lock into
place and perpetuate the vast and current racial disparities in broadband
access, adoption, and informed use."

The FCC asked for comment on whether it should
limit the kind of specialized services that can be offered. MMTC says no.
"By artificially limiting the provision of specialized offerings based on
our knowledge about currently available technologies," it argues,
"the FCC would threaten innovation. And it could also prevent offerings
that can help close the digital divide from ever reaching the

Those would include the kind of incubation and
incentive programs that benefit the groups MMTC represents.

Under the "sunlight is the best
disinfectant" theory, MMTC says the FCC should focus on transparency
and disclosure. Which means requiring ISPs to tell subs how they are managing
their service. That is when the shaming culture takes over, says MMTC, which is
another way of saying marketing forces. "In the few cases of net
neutrality violations over the past five years, each and every one was quickly
corrected because of the transparent and interactive Internet culture, which
forces broadband providers to serve the demands and wants of users or else
suffer the penalties of lost subscribers," the group said in its comments.

MMTC, which is trying to force some high-tech
companies to give up their employment data
also says the FCC's focus on net neutrality rules is diverting its resources
from what it calls "real hurdles" for women and minorities. "As
we have repeatedly brought to the FCC's attention, there are thousands of
instances of employment discrimination within Silicon Valley-based tech
companies that, every day, are trampling on the rights of minorities and women.
The FCC cannot continue to turn a blind eye to these discriminatory