By Wiley Cason
In response to the repeal of Federal Net Neutrality rules, Washington State’s governor and attorney general have both argued that state-level regulations may still prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating amongst data offered on their networks.
By Brennen Johnson
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission published its new net neutrality rules in the Federal Register. In response to the new rules, there has been an onslaught of legal challenges brought by telecom companies to defeat the rules before they go into effect mid-June. Within several days of publication, seven companies filed suit against the FCC over the rules. Rather than attacking the substance of the rules outright, the companies are instead seeking to block procedural aspects of the rules. The companies challenge both the FCC’s reclassification of the internet as a “public utility” as well as the legal standards and mechanisms that would allow the FCC to enforce the new rules.
By classifying broadband internet as a public utility, the FCC gains broader regulatory powers over internet providers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The reclassification addresses the FCC’s January 2014 failed attempt to enforce net neutrality. The FCC’s rules at that time were struck down in large part because broadband internet was not classified as a public utility, implying that the FCC could not regulate internet providers in the same broad manner as other utility providers. Speaking for the Court in that case, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David Tatel wrote: “[g]iven 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.” These broader powers significantly fortify the FCC’s position to protect its net neutrality rules from legal attack. However, if telecoms can successfully challenge the FCC’s reclassification of the internet as a public utility, then it seems a near certainty that the FCC’s current attempt at ensuring net neutrality will fail for the same reason it did in 2014. Continue reading
By Denise Kim
On February 4, 2015, Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced, through a Wired op-ed piece, his plan to circulate a new proposal that would allow the FCC to use its authority under Title II of the Communications Act to protect consumer broadband internet and provide stronger “open Internet” protections. The proposal will be subject to a vote by the full commission on February 26, 2015.
The proposal is considered a big win for net neutrality advocates because it could allow the FCC to stop Internet service providers from charging content providers more money for reliable Internet access. The proposal comes as a direct response to President Obama’s speech in November 2014 where he asked the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a public utility and suggested a four point plan for ensuring net neutrality.
Net neutrality, or open Internet, relates to the idea that ISPs and governments should treat Internet data equally in order to preserve its freedom and openness. This could be accomplished by prohibiting the owner of a network from discriminating against information by slowing or tampering with the transfer of any data. Currently, the FCC attempts to ensure net neutrality through the Open Internet Order, which established “high-level rules requiring transparency and prohibiting blocking and unreasonable discrimination to protect Internet openness.” Continue reading
By Max Burke
This past Monday, President Obama formally addressed the ongoing dispute over whether the Internet should be “open” and “neutral.” In a written statement and an accompanying video, the President asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “ implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”
In case you haven’t seen or read any technology-related news this past year, here’s a quick primer on what Neil Irwin of The New York Times described as “one of the most important policy disputes that will determine the future of the Internet.” Net neutrality, or open Internet, is the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) “should treat all Internet traffic equally” and should not be able control what websites users can or can’t access. This is essentially the system we have been living under since the dawn of the Internet. But ISPs, including Comcast and Verizon, want to be able to manage some of that access by collecting fees from certain content providers (e.g. Netflix) “in exchange for special access to Internet users.” As Irwin noted, this type of paid prioritization is essentially the business model of cable television providers (many of whom are also ISPs). And like the “boom in content for cable television customers,” ISPs believe there would be a similar “explosion of creativity on the Internet” if they were able to prioritize websites and applications. Continue reading