Commentary

FCC's Open Internet Rules Could Take Effect In October

The Federal Communications Commission this week moved forward with its open Internet rules by sending the neutrality regulations to the federal Office of Management and Budget. That agency is expected to approve the rules following a 30-day comment period, after which they will be published in the Federal Register. The rules will take effect 60 days after publication, which will probably occur in October or November.

The GOP has criticized the new rules as a "government takeover" of the Web but, despite the rhetoric, the regulations largely maintain the status quo. The open Internet order, which was approved 3-2 by the FCC last December, prohibit wireline providers from blocking or degrading traffic or otherwise engaging in unreasonable discrimination. The order also prohibits wireless providers from blocking sites or competing applications, but doesn't prohibit wireless carriers from creating fast lanes for companies that pay extra.

Broadband carriers already mostly abide by those rules, but do so voluntarily. Regardless, telecoms say that enshrining those principles in law will discourage investment and innovation. Consumer advocates, on the other hand, say the regulations won't do enough to protect consumers.

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Republicans on Capitol Hill have introduced various legislative proposals aimed at stopping the regulations from taking effect, but those measures aren't seen as likely to succeed given the support for neutrality in the Senate.

Nonetheless, the rules are seen as vulnerable to challenge because the FCC didn't first reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service. Instead, broadband is still considered an information service. That distinction could prove fatal for the regulations given that an appellate court has already ruled that the FCC lacks authority to regulate information services. In that matter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the FCC's 2008 order sanctioning Comcast for violating neutrality principles by slowing down BitTorrent traffic.

Two companies -- Verizon and MetroPCS -- have already asked an appellate court to invalidate the rules, but the case was dismissed as premature. Those providers -- and others as well -- will almost certainly bring a new appeal as soon as the rules take effect

1 comment about "FCC's Open Internet Rules Could Take Effect In October".
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  1. John Caldwell from RedPillEmail.com, July 8, 2011 at 7:28 p.m.

    Congress makes laws, not the FCC, or any other appointed commission for that matter. A bill has to make it through both houses of Congress before it can be signed into law.

    If you didn't learn this stuff in school, haven't you ever seen Schoolhouse Rock? http://youtu.be/mEJL2Uuv-oQ

    The Internet has grown, prospered, and produced great wealth without government intervention. We can't have that now, can we?

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