Net Neutrality Rules Pass, FCC Readies For Fight - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IT Life
08:06 PM
Connect Directly

Net Neutrality Rules Pass, FCC Readies For Fight

The decision to reclassify ISPs under FCC regulations represents a triumph for open Internet activists.

Net Neutrality: 4 Legal Challenges To Consider
Net Neutrality: 4 Legal Challenges To Consider
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Handing a significant victory to supporters of net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to adopt rules that reclassify suppliers of broadband Internet access as telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act.

The 3-2 vote was hailed by President Obama, who has supported net neutrality, which is the principle that network traffic should be treated in a non-discriminatory manner.

In a letter posted on the White House website, President Obama observed that an overwhelming majority of the 4 million people who wrote to the FCC about the issue expressed support for a free and open Internet.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler also emphasized the role of the millions of citizens who made their wishes known to the agency, underscoring the political power of the connected public. "We listened," he said in a statement. "We learned. And we adjusted our approach based on the public record. In the process we saw a graphic example of why open and unfettered communications are essential to freedom of expression in the 21st century."

The new rules reclassify both fixed and mobile broadband suppliers under Title II. The rules outlaw the blocking or throttling of legal content, applications, and services, as well as paid prioritization that would create Internet "fast lanes." They also require ISPs to disclose details about promotional rates, fees, surcharges, data caps, packet loss measurements, and network management practices.

(Image: Hugh D'Andrade via Electronic Frontier Foundation)

(Image: Hugh D'Andrade via Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Verizon, one of the telecommunications companies that have been fighting the FCC's efforts to regulate broadband access for years, called the FCC's ruling a throwback to 1930s rules, as if the age of a law somehow determines its relevance. To impugn the FCC decision by association, Verizon issued its statement in Morse code and, for the sake of actually having anyone read its objections, in a font designed to look like the blurred type from a Remington Riviera typewriter.

"Today's decision by the FCC to encumber broadband Internet services with badly antiquated regulations is a radical step that presages a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors," said Verizon in its statement.

[ See what wireless carriers think about FCC's rules. Read FCC Net Neutrality Push Rattles AT&T, Verizon. ]

In November 2014, Verizon General Counsel Randal Milch said in a blog post that Title II reclassification, as well as a weaker hybrid approach, "fairly guarantees litigation." And AT&T, another opponent of the FCC's reclassification plan, has already put forth potential legal arguments opposing the changes in filings submitted to the agency.

Outside of the telecom industry, academics and advocacy groups celebrated. Stanford Law Professor Barbara van Schewick said in a blog post: "Today's vote is among the greatest public interest victories in U.S. history," and predicted the FCC's rules will hold up in court.

American Library Association president Courtney Young called the decision "a win for students, creators, researchers, and learners of all ages."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation voiced similar approval, mixed with wariness about possibility of government overreach: "[N]ow we face the really hard part: making sure the FCC doesn't abuse its authority."

Attend Interop Las Vegas, the leading independent technology conference and expo series designed to inspire, inform, and connect the world's IT community. In 2015, look for all new programs, networking opportunities, and classes that will help you set your organization’s IT action plan. It happens April 27 to May 1. Register with Discount Code MPOIWK for $200 off Total Access & Conference Passes.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
David Wagner
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
2/28/2015 | 12:34:23 AM
Re: 3-2 vote is listening?
@Broadway0474- I think you have them right. It saddens me that technology is a battleground for political ideaology. It is best when it is above that, but sadly nothing is anymore. We can't even agree on basic science as truth anymore. It is all about "belief."
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

11 Things IT Professionals Wish They Knew Earlier in Their Careers
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/6/2021
Time to Shift Your Job Search Out of Neutral
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/31/2021
Does Identity Hinder Hybrid-Cloud and Multi-Cloud Adoption?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  4/1/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Current Issue
Successful Strategies for Digital Transformation
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll