Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

FCC Unveils New Regs For Open Internet

The FCC has voted, 3-2, to craft a set of regulations for the Internet under which content providers could pay for faster service, but ISPs could not discriminate against providers who did not opt to pay for that service. Critics have already pointed out that, by default, "non-payers" could still find themselves in a "slow lane."

Link to video of the meeting here.

The proposal is now open for public comment for four months. Fact sheet here.

Selection from the news release below.

The FCC has previously concluded that broadband providers have the incentive and ability to act in ways 
that threaten Internet openness.  But today, there are no rules that stop broadband providers from trying to 
limit Internet openness. That is why the Notice adopted by the FCC todays starts with a fundamental 
question: “What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open?”
The FCC proposes to rely on a legal blueprint set out by the United States Court of Appeals for the 
District of Columbia Circuit in its January decision in Verizon v. FCC, using the FCC’s authority to 
promote broadband deployment to all Americans under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 
1996. At the same time, the Commission will seriously consider using its authority under the 
telecommunications regulation found in Title II of the Communications Act.  In addition, the Notice:
? Proposes to retain the definitions and scope of the 2010 rules, which governed broadband Internet 
access service providers, but not services like enterprise services, Internet traffic exchange and 
specialized services.
? Proposes to enhance the existing transparency rule, which was upheld by the D.C. Circuit. The 
proposed enhancements would provide consumers, edge providers, and the Commission with 
tailored disclosures, including information on the nature of congestion that impacts consumers’
use of online services and timely notice of new practices.
? As part of the revived “no-blocking” rule, proposes ensuring that all who use the Internet can 
enjoy robust, fast and dynamic Internet access.
? Tentatively concludes that priority service offered exclusively by a broadband provider to an 
affiliate should be considered illegal until proven otherwise.
? Asks how to devise a rigorous, multi-factor “screen” to analyze whether any conduct hurts
consumers, competition, free expression and civic engagement, and other criteria under a legal 
standard termed “commercial reasonableness.”
? Asks a series of detailed questions about what legal authority provides the most effective means 
of keeping the Internet open:  Section 706 or Title II.
? Proposes a multi-faceted process to promptly resolve and head off disputes, including an 
ombudsperson to act as a watchdog on behalf of consumers and start-ups and small businesses. 

More here from the New York Times, here from CNET, here from Salon.com.

 

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