Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FCC Chairman Calls for New Net Neutrality Rules

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced plans to introduce new Net Neutrality rules saying his intent is to "preserved the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace."

The announcement comes a month after the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC overstepped its boundaries in setting Net Neutrality rules that compel broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic the same regardless of source.  In January, the court found that even though the FCC has general authority to regulate the Internet, it has previously chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers and the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from regulating them as such. The court therefore decided to vacate portions of the Open Internet Order because broadband providers do not have to meet common carrier obligations.

In a statement, Wheeler said the D.C. Circuit has also previously ruled that the FCC has the legal authority to issue enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness.  He plans to propose new rules that cover the following:

Enforce and enhance the transparency rule, which requires that network operators disclose how they manage Internet traffic. This is more significant than many people may realize. An explicit purpose of the rule is to afford edge providers the technical information they need to create and maintain their
products and services as well as to assess the risks and benefits of embarking on new projects.

Fulfill the “no blocking” goal. The FCC will consider ways to ensure that edge providers are not unfairly blocked, explicitly or implicitly,from reaching consumers, as well as ensuring that consumers can continue to access any lawful content and services they choose.

Fulfill the goals of the non-discrimination rule.  The FCC should consider (1) setting an enforceable legal standard that provides guidance and predictability to edge providers, consumers, and broadband providers alike; (2) evaluating on a case-by-case basis whether that
 standard is met; and (3) identifying key behaviors by broadband providers that the Commission would view with particular skepticism.

Keep Title II authority on the table -- this gives the FCC the ability to reclassify Internet access service as a telecommunications service.

Forgo judicial review of the Verizon decision. In light of the Court’s finding that the Commission has authority to issue new rules under Section 706 and the ongoing availability of Title II, the Commission will not initiate any further judicial action in connection with the Verizon decision.

Solicit public comment. A new docket called “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” has been opened for public input.

Hold Internet Service Providers to their commitment. Major Internet service providers have indicated that they will continue to honor the safeguards articulated in the 2010 Open Internet Order.

Enhance competition -- the FCC will look for opportunities to enhance Internet access competition.

http://www.fcc.gov/document/statement-fcc-chairman-tom-wheeler-fccs-open-internet-rules

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