FCC Chairman Seeks Strong Net Neutrality Rules as Critics Balk
The proposals, which include reclassifying and regulating Internet service as a public utility and banning throttling and paid prioritization of content, will come up for an FCC vote on Feb. 26.The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has put his ideas out there for how he sees the future regulation of the Internet, from reclassifying it as a public utility to banning throttling and special "lanes" for paid prioritization of content. But as soon as his proposals formally came out on Feb. 4, a myriad of critics began bashing some of Chairman Tom Wheeler's key ideas. For months, Wheeler has been talking publically about the changes he sees for the Internet of the future, including improved regulation and controls that will ensure the freedom and openness of its operation and infrastructure for decades to come. One of his key proposals is to reclassify the Internet as a public utility, which would then allow the FCC to more easily enact rules for the Internet in the future. The reclassification is needed, according to Wheeler, because of a court challenge that left the issue hanging last year. Verizon had sued the FCC over earlier rules it had passed aimed at net neutrality, with Verizon arguing that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate broadband providers. In that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia focused on narrow, technical grounds to overturn the FCC's rules at that time. Yet despite that court action, the court said that the FCC does have the authority to regulate the Internet. Wheeler also wants to prohibit the throttling of Internet speeds by service providers as well as the creation of pay lanes for certain traffic by content providers.
"The Internet must be fast, fair and open," Wheeler wrote in an op-ed piece published online on Feb. 4. "That is the message I've heard from consumers and innovators across this nation. That is the principle that has enabled the Internet to become an unprecedented platform for innovation and human expression."