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FCC Issues Open Internet Challenge

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The Federal Communications Commission launched a program Friday challenging the public to create an application that will  provide third-party verification that internet service providers do not violate the Commission's recent Open Internet Order.

The Order supplied rules but did not identify a mechanism or tool for the collection of data necessary to identify a violation.

“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. Empowering consumers with information about their own connections will promote a vibrant, innovative, world-leading broadband ecosystem.”

Currently a number of websites allow for this type of testing including the FCC’s own Broadband Speed test ( , Ookla’s, and Broadband Census ( is the parent company of

The tools must determine if ISPs are interfering with DNS, Application Packets, or other protocols. The software must also anonoymize the data so it may be used for future research projects.

Three awards will be given out, one for the best app, another entitled the People’s Choice award which will be determined by whatever application receives the most votes and finally the Research Award which will be awarded to the best research paper submitted as part of the challenge.

The challenge deadline is June 1st with winners announced on August 8th. More information can be found at

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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