FTC urges caution on net neutrality


WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday urged policymakers to proceed cautiously on any regulation of high-speed Internet traffic.

The agency issued a report addressing the controversial subject of network neutrality, which is the notion that all online traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers.

The issue pits consumer groups and content providers such as Google Inc. against large telecommunications companies, such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. The latter group wants the option of charging customers more for transmitting certain content, including live video, faster or more reliably than other data.

FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras said that without evidence of "market failure or demonstrated consumer harm, policy makers should be particularly hesitant to enact new regulation in this area." The Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice have jurisdiction over high-speed Internet access, while Congress has considered legislation that would mandate network neutrality.

The agency also said that certain practices that would discriminate among Internet traffic, such as prioritizing some data or providing exclusive deals to content providers, "can benefit consumers."