FCC details net neutrality rules

— 9:57 AM on March 13, 2015

A couple weeks back, the FCC voted to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers under certain provisions of the Communications Act of 1934. Now, we know exactly what these net neutrality rules will look like in practice. The FCC has released a 400-page report containing the new rules, along with dissenting opinions by commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a net neutrality advocate, said the following about the new rules:

We’re still reviewing, but there’s much to appreciate, including bright line rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of Internet traffic. For example, an ISP cannot degrade customers’ access to services that compete with its own offerings and cannot charge tolls to privilege traffic from one web service over others.

The FCC generally adopted a positive approach, resting its new rules on the proper legal authority, creating some bright-line protections, and forbearing from most of the provisions that were unnecessary to protecting net neutrality. Nonetheless, we remain concerned about certain elements of the order.

The telecom industry doesn't appear to have issued any new statements following the release of the FCC's report. It's probably safe to say that ISPs are just as unhappy now as they were after the February 26 vote, though. Verizon issued a snarky press release in response to that initial decision, and Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, said in a blog post:

We have never argued there should be no regulation in this area, simply that there should be smart regulation.  What doesn’t make sense, and has never made sense, is to take a regulatory framework developed for Ma Bell in the 1930s and make her great grandchildren, with technologies and options undreamed of eighty years ago, live under it.

ISPs have yet to take legal action against the FCC, but litigation is widely expected. For now, the FCC's net neutrality rules are the rules of the road.

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