FCC to Try for Watered Down Net Neutrality Rules

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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.

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Net neutrality is a serious concern, and it sounds like the FCC may take a path that doesn't do much to protect the Internet as we know it. If that's true, we'll most likely see companies like Netflix forced into paying carriers like Verizon fees under the guise of voluntary agreements to avoid throttled bandwidth.

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Paul Goodwin

“The Obama administration refuses to abandon its furious pursuit of these harmful policies to put government in charge of the Web”

Leave it to the far right fear mongers to twist what would be FCC regulation into this political garbage. Does anyone think the government is in charge of what’s broadcast on TV and radio? I detest posting anything political, but who elects these guys? The FCC and many other regulatory functions of the government are needed to protect people from the very unscrupulous types these guys support and get paid by. There’s a branch of the Republican Party that just continually shows how out of touch with today’s world and anything resembling normalcy. There’s an equal part of the Democratic Party too. But statements like these just grate on me.

Government organizations like the FCC and FAA are valuable. They are a necessity in today’s world. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living in a dream world.


This is not going to be fixed as long as the carriers are also content providers.

I believe that the FCC will take one more try at this and, wen it fails, will be forced to regulate the carrier portion of the companies, leaving the content stuff unregulated. There will be a firestorm but it’ll have to happen.

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