The Federal Communications Commission has named an Open Internet Advisory Committee to monitor and report on the effectiveness of the FCC’s network neutrality regime. The committee will be chaired by Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain. According to a statement from FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, the new committee will “track and evaluate the effects of the FCC’s Open Internet rules, and provide any recommendations it deems appropriate to the FCC.”
Zittrain is best known for his 2008 book The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It. The vice-chairman of the committee will be David Clark, author of the famous paper End-to-End Arguments in System Design that many have cited as a predecessor to the modern concept of network neutrality.
The 21-member committee will include representatives from Netflix, AT&T, Comcast, Disney, Mozilla, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Union Square Ventures. Verizon, which has sued to block implementation of the FCC’s network neutrality rules, will not be represented on the committee. Nor does the committee appear to include any critics of network neutrality regulations from the nonprofit sector or academia.
In his statement announcing the new committee, Genachowski touted what he characterized as a flourishing broadband market. “In 2011, investment in wired and wireless network infrastructure rose 24 percent,” he wrote. “There has been a dramatic increase over the past few years in the deployment of fixed broadband networks capable of very high speeds—100 Mbps—from being available in less than 20 percent of U.S. homes in 2009 to approximately 80 percent today.”
It’s not clear how much influence the committee will have over FCC policy. As an advisory committee, it has no formal regulatory powers, and its large and diverse membership may prevent it from taking any controversial stances.
The first meeting will be sometime this summer and will be open to the public.