FCC's 'Bright-Line' Net Neutrality Rules Promise To Uphold 'The Strongest Open Internet Protections Ever'

| by Kathryn Schroeder
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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler announced in an online op-ed in Wired magazine his proposed ‘bright-line’ net neutrality rules.

In the op-ed, Wheeler proposes that the FCC use its Title II authority “to implement and enforce open internet protections.”

The three key components of the proposed ‘bright-line’ rules are: no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization.

“Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC," Wheeler wrote. "These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission."

The pay-for-play deals with companies for faster delivery of their content to consumers would therefore not be allowed, reports Politico.

Wheeler’s bright-line rules will not be accepted without a fight from the GOP Congress and Internet service providers. They claim it will hinder investment and create an oppressive amount of regulation.

AT&T has said it will challenge the new regulations in court.

Wheeler thinks investment in broadband networks will be encouraged with the new set of net neutrality rules by tailoring Title II for the 21st century.

“To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks," he wrote. "For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling. Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules, proving that modernized Title II regulation can encourage investment and competition."

There has been praise for Wheeler’s plan by those who previously pushed him to take a stronger stance after his previous actions cast doubt on whether net neutrality would be supported by the FCC.

“He’s listening to the American people, setting aside the political tricks of the ISPs, and restoring the right foundation for the Open Internet and our country’s broadband future,” said Matt Wood, policy director for Free Press.

But Congressional Republicans do not view Wheeler’s plan as the answer, and are developing their own net neutrality legislation.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-South Dakota) and House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders Fred Upton (R-Michigan) and Greg Walden (R-Oregon) are creating a bill that would prevent ISPs from blocking or slowing down Internet traffic without the utility-type rules, while placing restrictions on the FCC to regulate broadband.

“[The plan] is not about net neutrality — it is a power grab for the federal government by the chairman of a supposedly independent agency who finally succumbed to the bully tactics of political activists and the president himself,” Thune said in a statement.

Wheeler said he has constructed his plan to adhere to the strong message from consumers and innovators across the nation.

“The internet must be fast, fair and open," he wrote. "That is the message I’ve heard from consumers and innovators across this nation. That is the principle that has enabled the internet to become an unprecedented platform for innovation and human expression. And that is the lesson I learned heading a tech startup at the dawn of the internet age. The proposal I present to the commission will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future, for all Americans."

The FCC’s full five-member commission will vote on Wheeler’s plan on Feb. 26.

Sources: Wired, Politico / Photo Source: Popular Resistance, fandorcompanyblog.files