The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the authority
to order filtering of Internet traffic for copyright violations or to
permit Internet users to have their service taken away after allegations
of copyright infringement,
Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn said Thursday.
Testifying at an FCC workshop on the “National Broadband Plan:
Workshop on the Role of Content in the Broadband Ecosystem,” Sohn
said: “The last time the FCC mandated a copy protection technology
without Congressional authorization, the D.C. Circuit slapped it down.
That case involved the infamous broadcast flag. Any copy protection
mandate the FCC could devise here would suffer the same fate.”
Public Knowledge was the lead party in bringing that case against the
Sohn also told the workshop that such filtering is now network
management, testifying that “filtering is content management, not
network management, and to the extent that they block lawful content,
they violate the FCC’s principles.
In addition, Sohn told the workshop that: (1) There is not data to show a
problem with copyright infringement online. “The industry’s data on
the extent of illegal activity and the actual harm to the industry is
suspect at best.” She added, “The FCC has proclaimed itself
to be a data-driven agency, but copyright policy in the US tends to be
more faith-based than data driven.” (2) Content filtering could
have unintended consequences in harming the network and spurring use of
encryption. (3) There are other ways to curb online infringement, such as
warning notices and take-down notices.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.