FCC Proposal Angers Net Neutrality Proponents

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-04-24 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says new proposed rules will protect competition, while consumer advocates call them an "insult" to the open Internet.

"Under this principle, consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what lawful content they want to access, create or share with others. This openness promotes competition and enables investment and innovation," the FCC wrote in an explanation of the Order on its site.

But in the January ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that because the FCC doesn't classify broadband providers as "common carriers," Verizon isn't beholden to the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules in the Open Internet Order."

In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC was given the authority to regulate ISPs as either telecommunications services, which transmit data, or information services, which process data. It chose the latter, though information service companies are treated as common carriers—companies that, unlike private carriers, offer services for the public good, without discrimination.

Following the ruling, many believed the FCC simply needed to change the designation.

"The FCC must craft open Internet [protections] that are not full-fledged common carrier rules. Alternately, if the FCC needs broader authority, it can classify broadband as a title 2 common carrier service. Both of these are viable options," Harold Feld, senior vice president Public Knowledge, said in a Jan. 14 statement.

Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner, released a statement the same day. "Without prompt action by the Commission to reclassify broadband," Copps said, "this awful ruling will serve as a sorry memorial to the corporate abrogation of free speech."

Free Press' Aaron, in his statement on April 24, also called for the FCC to classify ISPs as telecom carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

"This is not Net Neutrality," wrote Aaron. "It's an insult to those who care about preserving the open Internet to pretend otherwise. The FCC had an opportunity to reverse its failures and pursue real Net Neutrality by reclassifying broadband under the law. Instead, in a moment of political cowardice and extreme shortsightedness, it has chosen this convoluted path that won't protect Internet users."

 

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