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FCC voting on new net neutrality rules in February

FCC voting on new net neutrality rules in February

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FCC chair Tom Wheeler hopes to vote on a new net neutrality proposal in February. The Washington Post reports that Wheeler is planning to internally distribute an updated version of the Open Internet rules he's been working on for almost a year, with the goal of getting them passed in a February 26th meeting; an FCC spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that Wheeler would indeed circulate an order next month. There's no clue as to what these rules might entail, but the Post paraphrases analysts and officials close to the FCC, saying that Wheeler is planning "far more aggressive regulation" than he originally proposed.

Wheeler may plan on "far more aggressive regulation" than originally proposed

The proposal would replace the Open Internet Order that was struck down in court at the beginning of last year, creating rules to prevent internet service providers from unfairly blocking or discriminating against content. After introducing a tentative proposal in the spring of 2014, Wheeler initially hoped to have new rules in place by the end of 2014. But both critics and supporters of net neutrality were wary of his plan; the former worried that any regulation could stifle internet innovation, and the latter believed that his proposal might not stand up to another lawsuit, or that it would leave loopholes that would let ISPs charge more for preferential service.

At the end of the year, President Barack Obama came out in favor of a potentially stricter solution: reclassifying broadband as a Title II service like telephone networks. It's a solution internet companies like Netflix have lauded, but cable providers have opposed. This reportedly conflicted with Wheeler's proposed plan, but the chairman has remained equivocal on the issue — though we'll expect to see more specifics soon. Either way, the vote will likely be split down party lines: Wheeler, along with liberal commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, voted for new Open Internet rules, while conservatives Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly have vocally opposed them.

Update January 2nd, 2015 4:15PM ET: Updated with FCC statement.