FCC: Protecting the ‘Open Internet’ — There’s an App For That

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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Photo: fcc.gov

The Federal Communications Commission has put out a call for software developers to create “open Internet” applications for wired and mobile devices.

The apps contest, one in a long line of innovation challenges initiated by the federal government, seeks apps that will provide Internet users with information about whether their connections and services are adhering to “open Internet” principles.

“This challenge is about using the open Internet to protect the open Internet,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “Our goal is to foster user-developed applications that shine light on any practice that might be inconsistent with the free and open Internet.

Genachowski characterized the apps contest, which is hosted at openinternet.gov/challenge, as one of empowerment for consumers, saying it promotes “a vibrant, innovative, world-leading broadband ecosystem.”

While it sounds like a slightly vague concept, concrete examples of possible apps include software tools able to detect whether a broadband provider is interfering with DNS responses, application packet headers or content.

Winners of the contest will present their creations at an FCC-sponsored reception in Washington, D.C. Their work will be featured on the agency’s website and social media sites.

The Hill’s technology blog Hillicon Valley characterized the contest as a means to increase support for the agency’s recent net neutrality proposals, perhaps among tech and software circles.

FCC’s move is “taking a shot at bolstering its controversial net-neutrality rules,” Hillicon Valley wrote.

According to a recent national Rasmussen Reports poll, a majority of Americans don’t want FCC to regulate Internet in the same vein as radio and TV.

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