Rebooting Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission has taken the first step in rebooting the net neutrality rules. Today's announcement by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler follows a major D.C. Circuit decision this year, which struck down the existing rules requiring that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) treat all data on the internet equally, while keeping the door open for future FCC action to prevent broadband providers from discriminating against or blocking certain websites or services.

Chairman Wheeler laid out several steps to address the court's ruling, the most important of which are:

  • Reclassification: Today's announcement keeps the best solution to the court's decision on the table. That is, it recognizes that the FCC can reclassify broadband services as a "common carrier," under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which would allow the commission to treat broadband providers like telephone service, where companies can't play favorites among customers or among services provided over the phone. The ACLU has long called for this reclassification of broadband services, and the FCC needs to move forward resolutely to make that a reality. It deserves credit for preserving the option.
  • No-Discrimination: Chairman Wheeler urged the FCC to consider new no-discrimination rules to prevent ISPs from favoring some content at others' expense. These would be applied on a case-by-case basis under section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which obliges the FCC to promote broadband deployment and competition. (While we support the FCC's quick action to protect broadband consumers, we also urge it to expressly acknowledge that section 706 cannot be used to regulate internet content. We do not believe it can, but there's some concern that it might be misused.)
  • No-Blocking: Chairman Wheeler asked the commission to consider a new no-blocking rule so that ISPs can't block or slow down their competitors or controversial content. While the court suggested that a blanket no-discrimination rule can't pass muster under the legal framework presented by the FCC, it gave the FCC more latitude on a no-blocking rule. Today's announcement recognizes that leeway and promises to consider how to prevent blocking and ensure that consumers can access any lawful content or services they desire.

The FCC also decided to preserve the mixed-bag of the January court ruling by not appealing the three-judge D.C. Circuit decision to either the full appeals court or the Supreme Court.

To be clear, the FCC's priority must be reclassification. That's the only solution that reflects today's reality. Modern broadband providers are quintessential common carriers, and the very few options for high-speed broadband in most markets means that consumers can't vote with their feet and discipline provider misbehavior. Reclassification also doesn't raise the specter of unintended consequences, which some have pointed to as a danger if the FCC moves ahead with net neutrality rules without taking that step.

We're encouraged by the FCC's quick action and hope it keeps up. If you agree, take action today to urge the FCC to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers and preserve our free and open internet.

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Anonymous

AGREE? I don't even completely understand all of it.
If there's one thing I remember about legal documents and signing your name to them (so to speak, and this feels like I'm being asked to sign something) is that you're "not supposed to sign anything you don't fully understand."

But it makes me angry anyway, the way they write UP most legal documents, then ask you to sign but if you DON'T sign it, you get the boot from your job.
Every damn paper I SIGNED on this new training I'm taking was designed in EXACTLY that way, and you should have seen how she acted when she explained ADA to me.
"This states that we HAVE to treat people with disabilities like they're no different from anyone else, and if we do anything like cut you from the job, we'll get in trouble."
I couldn't even beLIEVE it when I heard it coming from her mouth. She's upSET that she has to treat a person like they're a human being. I'm glad I'm only working with HER for one week.
But I digress. Signing my name to something reminded me of the BS I was put through when I filled out all the "legal forms" for this new training.

I have to completely understand something before I "agree to it," or I simply can't sign my name to it.
The problem of not understanding is mostly mine. I've never understood net neutrality anyway.
I'll just have to keep searching for the article that finally succeeds in breaking through my confusion.

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