US Regulators Seek New Open Internet Rules For Net Neutrality
February 20, 2014

US Regulators Seek New Open Internet Rules For Net Neutrality

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

On Wednesday US regulators called for new “Open Internet” rules after a court ruling struck down much of the so-called “net neutrality” provisions. Net neutrality is the principal that Internet service providers should treat all data on their networks equally.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it will not appeal the January 14 court ruling by the US Court of Appeals in the DC Circuit in Washington that overturned its anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules.

“In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit invited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet,” wrote FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday. “I intend to accept that invitation by proposing rules that will meet the court’s test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among Internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how Internet Service Providers manage traffic, and enhancing competition. Preserving the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace is an important responsibility of this agency.”

Wheeler added that the FCC will try to regulate anti-competitive behavior on a “case-by-case basis.”

The net neutrality rules had been aimed at preventing big telecom operators from blocking or even slowing – so-called throttling – online offerings from Netflix or YouTube while at the same time promoting their own partners or services.

The court said that the FCC could regulate the Internet under Section 706, which allows it to make rules to promote broadband deployment. Wheeler will likely proceed with this plan.

While the original rules failed because these were too much like “common carrier” services such as phone companies, which can be regulated more strictly, The Verge reported, “the FCC could just define broadband providers as common carriers. An earlier decision to classify them differently is what doomed the FCC's old policy, and the change would be a surefire way to make sure any new net neutrality rules would stand up.”

In addition, Verizon, which brought the lawsuit against the FCC, stated that it will not appeal the ruling. It had denied accusations that it had throttled Netflix in the wake of this decision.

“Verizon remains committed to an open Internet that provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where and how they want,” Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden said in an email to the French news agency AFP. “We have always focused on providing our customers with the services and experience they want, and this focus has not changed.”

FCC efforts to regulate anti-competition have already drawn praise from advocates of net neutrality.

“We are pleased that the FCC plans to protect Internet openness, promote transparency, encourage municipal broadband and achieve other goals,” Gene Kimmelman, president of the consumer activist group Public Knowledge, told AFP. “The recently proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable by Comcast makes it even more important for the Commission to move expeditiously to reinstate nondiscrimination rules by using all regulatory tools available.”

There were even calls that the FCC should go farther with tighter regulations that could maintain it.

“The strongest path forward to preserve net neutrality protections and to achieve other important FCC objectives is to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service,” Sarah Morris at the New America Foundation also told AFP.