FCC Commissioners Approve Controversial Net Neutrality Proposal
UPDATE: Primary Document: Full Text of Open Internet/Net Neutrality Proposal (Adopted May 15, 2014)
UPDATE: Watch Video of FCC Meeting: Open Internet Discussion and Vote (via C-SPAN)
Runs 61 minutes.
UPDATE: ALA Issues Statement on Today’s FCC Vote: “American Library Association prepares to help protect the Open Internet”
Today’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) re-opens one of the most important rulemakings to affect America’s internet users and the libraries that support free public access and communities of researchers and learners. American Library Association (ALA) Immediate Past President Maureen Sullivan released the following statement in the wake of the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Open Internet:
“The ALA remains steadfastly committed to the Open Internet and will actively engage on behalf of libraries nationwide, and the millions of people who rely on our services and millions more who share our commitment to intellectual freedom and equitable access to online information.
“The ALA was extremely disappointed with January’s decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order. Now that the Internet has become the primary mechanism for delivering information, services and applications to the general public, it is especially important that commercial Internet Service Providers are not able to control or manipulate the content of these communications.
“We are pleased that the FCC has taken the first step today to filling the void created by the appeals court’s decision, and we will advocate forcefully for enforceable policies that ensure the internet remains an open platform for information exchange, intellectual discourse, creativity, innovation and learning for all.”
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 along party lines to formally propose new “net neutrality'” rules that may let Internet service providers charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.
In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s vote, public interest groups, Democratic lawmakers and the nation’s leading Internet companies slammed the fast lane concept, saying it would lead to inequity on the Web. Republicans and top telecom firms, meanwhile, warned Wheeler against one option he floats in the proposal — reclassifying broadband as a utility like telephone service, which they say would impose burdensome regulation.
The vote fell along party lines, with Wheeler and fellow Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel approving the plan and Republicans Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly rejecting it.
The vote opens a comment-and-review period intended to lead to a second vote and a final rule later this year. A court in January threw out open-Internet rules the FCC adopted in 2010.
“I will not allow the national asset of an open Internet to be compromised,” Wheeler said. The debate before the agency “is not about whether the Internet must be open, but about how and when we will have rules in place,” Wheeler said.
“There is one Internet,” Wheeler said at the meeting. Allowing fast traffic that “squeezes out” small providers is unacceptable and the agency’s proposed rules seek to stop that from happening, Wheeler said.
From The Washington Post
Even one of the Democratic commissioners who voted yes on Thursday expressed some misgivings about how the proposal had been handled.
“I would have done this differently. I would have taken the time to consider the future,” said Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who said the proposal can’t allow for clear fast lanes for the most privileged companies. She said she supported a proposal allowing the agency to consider questions on how it could prevent certain Web sites from being blocked, in addition to figuring out the overall oversight of broadband Internet providers.
“I believe the process that got us to rulemaking today was flawed,” she said. “I would have preferred a delay.”
FCC Documents Released Today
The Federal Communications Commission today launched a rulemaking seeking public comment on how best to protect and promote an open Internet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today poses a broad range of questions to elicit the broadest range of input from everyone impacted by the Internet, from consumers and small businesses to providers and start-ups.
The FCC proposes to rely on a legal blueprint set out by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in its January decision in Verizon v. FCC, using the FCC’s authority to
promote broadband deployment to all Americans under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. At the same time, the Commission will seriously consider using its authority under the telecommunications regulation found in Title II of the Communications Act.
In addition, the Notice:
- Proposes to retain the definitions and scope of the 2010 rules, which governed broadband Internet access service providers, but not services like enterprise services, Internet traffic exchange and specialized services.
- Proposes to enhance the existing transparency rule, which was upheld by the D.C. Circuit. The proposed enhancements would provide consumers, edge providers, and the Commission with tailored disclosures, including information on the nature of congestion that impacts consumers’ use of online services and timely notice of new practices.
- As part of the revived “no-blocking” rule, proposes ensuring that all who use the Internet can enjoy robust, fast and dynamic Internet access
- Tentatively concludes that priority service offered exclusively by a broadband provider to an affiliate should be considered illegal until proven otherwise.
- Asks how to devise a rigorous, multi-factor “screen” to analyze whether any conduct hurts consumers, competition, free expression and civic engagement, and other criteria under a legal standard termed “commercial reasonableness.”
- Asks a series of detailed questions about what legal authority provides the most effective means of keeping the Internet open: Section 706 or Title II.
- Proposes a multi-faceted process to promptly resolve and head off disputes, including an ombudsperson to act as a watchdog on behalf of consumers and start-ups and small businesses.
Comments on Today’s Vote
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.