FCC to Try for Watered Down Net Neutrality Rules

The U.S. Federal Communication Commission is planning on pushing forward with new net neutrality rules after its previous set of policies was shot down by a Federal Appeals Court. The new proposed rules won't, however, be as strict as some proponents have been hoping for.

FCC working on new net neutrality rules with less biteFCC working on new net neutrality rules with less bite

The idea behind net neutrality is that service providers must transmit all data equally instead of giving certain content priority or even blocking websites. The rules that had been put into place were challenged in Court by Verizon, and a three Judge panel ruled in favor of the carrier on a technicality.

The panel ruled that "given that the commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the commission from nonetheless regulating them as such."

The ruling went on to urge the FCC to craft new rules that fall within its ability to enforce, and that's what Commission chairman Tom Wheeler is now hoping to achieve. He addressed the plan this week saying,

The FCC must stand strongly behind its responsibility to oversee the public interest standard and ensure that the Internet remains open and fair. The Internet is and must remain the greatest engine of free expression, innovation, economic growth and opportunity the world has ever known.

Those rules most likely won't include reclassifying Internet service providers to allow for stricter oversight, and may let carriers strike voluntary deals for prioritized data. Instead of directly prohibiting favored data transfer, the FCC would detail what's considered unacceptable practices and deal with enforcement issues when they get unfair discrimination complaints, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Commission will solicit public comment, and then present its new rules proposal most likely at the end of spring or beginning of summer.

Even though the expected rules are far weaker than earlier proposals, some Republicans are still against any level of Internet regulation. They feel Internet traffic should be completely unregulated and out from under the Government's watchful eye.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R, MI) and Rep. Greg Walden (R, OR) blasted the President in a statement saying, "The Obama administration refuses to abandon its furious pursuit of these harmful policies to put government in charge of the Web."

Mr. Wheeler hasn't committed to a specific set of rules yet, so there's time for the public to offer up their comments on what they'd like to see in net neutrality. If the FCC proposes what's expected, however, we'll likely see disappointed end users and content providers.