The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to implement new net neutrality rules designed to make sure Internet service providers treat all legal content equally. The historic vote on the proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler elicited hearty cheers from a wide array of technology companies and consumer groups while setting the table for further legal challenges from Internet service providers. The controversial proceedings that led up to the vote generated heated lobbying in Washington and public clamor on social media, all in efforts to steer the future direction of the rules that guide Internet traffic.
“No one … should control free and open access to the Internet,” Wheeler said to applause from the standing room-only crowd gathered before the FCC panel. “It’s the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. The Internet is too important to allow broadband providers to make the rules.”
The Commission, once and for all, enacts strong, sustainable rules, grounded in multiple sources of legal authority, to ensure that Americans reap the economic, social, and civic benefits of an Open Internet today and into the future. These new rules are guided by three principles: America’s broadband networks must be fast, fair and open—principles shared by the overwhelming majority of the nearly 4 million commenters who participated in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding. Complete presss release can be viewed at http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-strong-sustainable-rules-protect-open-internet
Bright Line Rules: The first three rules ban practices that are known to harm the Open Internet:
- No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services,
or non-harmful devices.
- No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the
basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over
other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.”
This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. The bright-line rules against blocking and throttling will prohibit harmful practices that target specific
applications or classes of applications. And the ban on paid prioritization ensures that there will be no fast lanes.
A Standard for Future Conduct: Because the Internet is always growing and changing, there must be a known standard by which to address any concerns that arise with new practices. The Order establishes that ISPs cannot “unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage” the ability of consumers to select, access, and use the lawful content, applications, services, or devices of their choosing; or of edge providers to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to consumers. Today’s Order ensures that the Commission will have authority to address questionable practices on a case-by-case basis, and provides guidance in the form of factors on how the Commission will apply the standard
Has the FCC really Adopted a Strong, Sustainable Rules to Protect The Open Internet? My opinion will be posted tomorrow on how this new ruling will affect businesses and consumers.