Skip to main content

Filed under:

FCC sparks fear of corporate control in war for net neutrality

Share this story

The Federal Communications Commission is taking a second crack at creating regulations to enforce net neutrality, the principle that all internet traffic — no matter what it is or where it came from — should be treated equally. With its first rules, the 2010 Open Internet Order, struck down in court in early 2014, the FCC has begun to create new regulations based on different legal grounds that it hopes will give it proper authority to enforce them.But those new legal grounds have put net neutrality in jeopardy. Under the updated regulations' allegedly necessary new legal standard, internet service providers will be allowed to let some companies or services access an internet fast lane for a fee so long as they make the deal on "commercially reasonable" terms.What exactly does "commercially reasonable" mean? Well, for now, the FCC doesn't quite know: it suggests it could simply mean giving priority access to a life-saving medical device, but neutrality advocates worry that this will open the door to a much broader tiered internet, where service providers force big companies into paying up for good speeds and leave everyone else stuck in the slow lane.The new rules began circulating the FCC in April 2014 and were approved by an internal vote in May. From there, the new regulations will enter a public comment phase to help the FCC draft its final rules — in particular, it says it wants feedback on what's commercially reasonable and what legal authority it should be using to keep the internet open. It's hoping to have the new rules instated by the end of 2014.