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.
Apr 29, 2014
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is offering the most stalwart defense yet for his controversial new net neutrality rules. After a huge backlash and two failed attempts to convince angry internet denizens that the FCC isn't about to destroy net neutrality in the name of corporate profits, the former cable industry lobbyist is addressing specific fears about how the new proposal could affect consumers in a new blog post.Read Article >
Perhaps most significantly, he states that should this attempt fail, he won't hesitate to do what many furious individuals have been asking for all along: to reclassify and regulate internet service providers as a utility, just like traditional telephone service.
The FCC has had a rough couple days. Controversy exploded yesterday when a Wall Street Journal report warned that the commission is considering new rules that would tear down the core principles of net neutrality and allow already-powerful internet service providers to act as the internet's greedy gatekeepers. Since then, the FCC has made several attempts to reverse the panic and outrage that quickly set in after the report that Chairman Tom Wheeler blasted as "flat out wrong."Read Article >
But thanks in no small part to overly vague and mixed messages, it hasn't made much progress. In the meantime, politicians, advocacy groups, and others continue to relentlessly berate the FCC over a spineless approach that could allow massive corporate entities to wield even greater influence over the internet. We've collected some of that early feedback below.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has just published a blog post that expands on a statement he gave last night on the topics of net neutrality and an open internet. Earlier yesterday, The Wall Street Journal issued a troubling report alleging that the FCC will soon propose new rules that effectively spell the end of net neutrality. Wheeler came out hard against that notion last night, and he continues to refute the doomsday scenario today. Despite his best efforts, Wheeler's words won't do much to calm the storm.Read Article >
"There has been a great deal of misinformation that has recently surfaced regarding the draft Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that we will today circulate to the Commission," he says. "The Notice does not change the underlying goals of transparency, no blocking of lawful content, and no unreasonable discrimination among users established by the 2010 Rule." Wheeler's goal is to have enforceable Open Internet rules in place by the end of 2014.
Apr 24, 2014
Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission will propose new net neutrality rules that will reportedly destroy the concept of net neutrality as we know it, making it okay for internet service providers to establish a "fast lane" for preferred customers and charge an additional toll. Needless to say, those who care about net neutrality weren't too happy to hear that an organization that is supposed to protect communications might sell out to corporate interests. However, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, says that there has been "no turnaround in policy," and calls those reports "flat out wrong."Read Article >
Here's the FCC chairman's full statement:
Apr 23, 2014
The internet is fucked, and the US government is making it worse.Read Article >
Political cowardice set the FCC up to lose its first battle for net neutrality regulation: the rules that keep the internet as you know it free and open. The idea of net neutrality is that all traffic is created equal — whether it's a movie streaming from Netflix, or a WhatsApp message, or a Tweet, or a round of Titanfall. But according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the FCC is now considering new rules that tear down the fundamental principle of net neutrality. The proposal would allow profit-hungry behemoths like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to become gatekeepers that give preferential treatment to companies that pay the most for special access to internet users.
Apr 23, 2014
The Federal Communications Commission's proposal for new net neutrality rules will allow internet service providers to charge companies for preferential treatment, effectively undermining the concept of net neutrality, according to The Wall Street Journal. The rules will allow providers to charge companies for preferential treatment so long as they offer that treatment to all interested parties on "commercially reasonable" terms, with the FCC deciding whether the terms are reasonable on a case-by-case basis. Providers will reportedly not be able to block individual websites, however.Read Article >
The goal of net neutrality rules is to prevent service providers from discriminating between different content, allowing all types of data and all companies' data to be treated equally. While it appears that outright blocking of individual services won't be allowed, the Journal reports that some forms of discrimination will be allowed, though that will apparently not include slowing down websites. In response, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler issued a statement that reports of net neutrality's demise are "flat out wrong." Nonetheless, allowing some websites to pay for preferentially treatment would inherently favor larger, more successful companies.
Feb 25, 2014
Here’s a simple truth: the internet has radically changed the world. Over the course of the past 20 years, the idea of networking all the world’s computers has gone from a research science pipe dream to a necessary condition of economic and social development, from government and university labs to kitchen tables and city streets. We are all travelers now, desperate souls searching for a signal to connect us all. It is awesome.Read Article >
And we’re fucking everything up.
Jan 15, 2014
The wrong words.Read Article >
That was the overwhelming message delivered to the FCC by the DC Circuit yesterday when it ruled to vacate the agency’s net neutrality rules. The FCC had tried to impose so-called “common carrier” regulations on broadband providers without officially classifying them as utilities subject to those types of rules, and the court rejected that sleight of hand. Most observers saw the decision coming months, if not years, ago; Cardozo Law School’s Susan Crawford called the FCC’s position a “house of cards.”