FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

GOP Vows to Block Implementation

 

FCC Chairman Genachowski spent most of 2010 swimming upstream on the issue of Net Neutrality in light of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals limiting the FCC’s authority on this area; vehement Republican opposition and the defeat of all 95 House Democrats who had pledged to support Net Neutrality. Nonetheless, at the FCC’s December 21st meeting, Genachowski’s “Net Neutrality Lite” proposal was approved along partisan lines.

The proposal mandates (i) transparency for both wireline and wireless services, requiring disclosure to consumers, content and device providers; (ii) wireline providers are prohibited from blocking any lawful content, apps, services or devices; wireless providers, from blocking websites and competing telephony services, (iii) wireline (but not wireless) providers are prohibited from unreasonably discriminating against any traffic. Paid prioritization is not explicitly banned, though any such regime would likely raise red flags for the commission under the “no unreasonable discrimination” test. Such red flags have already been raised by MetroPCS’s new pricing plans which appears to reward consumers who forego competing services such as Skype, Google Voice and other competing VoIP services.

Republicans are vehemently opposed to net neutrality, calling it the “fairness doctrine” of the Internet and Deputy Republican Whip Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has already introduced legislation to repeal the FCC rule. Still swimming upstream, however, Genachowski has established an FCC challenge to “researchers and software developers to engage in research and create apps that help consumers foster, measure, and protect Internet openness.”

 

FYI: The Internet Law Center did a PowerPoint overview of Net Neutrality and it is available on SlideShare.

More Info: Republicans on new FCC net neutrality rules: kill!, Ars Technica, What the new FCC open Internet rules could mean for net neutrality, Gov. 2.0; Consumer Advocates Say MetroPCS Plan Violates FCC Neutrality.