Carnegie Mellon University
April 27, 2015

EPP Department Head Douglas Sicker Featured in "Today"

EPP Department Head Douglas Sicker Featured in

Engineering and Public Policy department head Douglas Sicker talks net neutrality in Today, Carnegie Mellon University's alumni magazine.

"Broadband has been lightly regulated by the FCC for years, with the agency intervening primarily on a case-by-case basis. In 2010, however, amid legal wrangling and pressure for a more proactive approach, the commission drafted the Open Internet Rules “to preserve the free and open internet.” In basic terms, the rules were: transparency, no blocking, and no unreasonable discrimination. An ISP must openly ensure fair treatment for Amazon and HMS alike.

Sicker, now head of Carnegie Mellon’s Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) department and professor of computer science, had been the FCC’s Chief Technology Officer when those rules were written—and one of the lead authors. Sicker describes that period as an intense and “stressful” three months, including routine and lengthy weekend meetings. And against his opinion, “we did this in the dark,” he recalls. “Nobody was allowed to know we were writing [the rules] after talking about it for two years. I think that hurt long-term acceptance.”

"Sicker notes that—as with many pressing policy issues—this one presents a more complicated, nuanced picture. He doesn’t even care for the phrase. 'I dislike the term ‘net neutrality,’ he says. 'I prefer open internet. Net neutrality means that all data packets should be treated equally.'"