So, even after all of the huffing and puffing the FCC have decided to pass 3 to 2 (along party lines) their Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that would in the FCC’s eyes promote an ‘open’ internet, which is really a farce. As we had already reported, the FCC got quite a clear indication via their public comment session on Twitter that the public was not happy with this NPRM that they were planning to vote on today. Yet, even though they claim to ‘listen’ to our comments they still passed the NPRM and now move into the 60 day + 60 day periods of comment seeking with the first 60 days being for initial comment seeking followed by replies. Frankly, it all seems entirely like a gigantic farce, especially when you consider that the ISPs are already doing so much to prevent the existence of an open internet and the FCC has done nothing. Even though, to be fair, the Congress hasn’t given them an ample amount of regulatory powers to properly chastise ISPs and carriers for their behavior (if they actually wanted to).
In addition to the recognition of a possible Title II Classification which would make internet service providers common carriers in their proposal the FCC stated the following:
- 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 nformation 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.
Ultimately, there is no denying that some of these things are good, but the question will be whether or not the FCC will be specific enough with these rules to make them effective enough to really properly protect the internet. As of right now, the current set of rules which were set in 2010 were stricken down by a federal court, allowing companies to continue to participate in bottlenecking behavior and prioritization practices which the FCC technically states that they find illegal. They are also asking what they believe would give them the most rule making power, even though the majority of pro-internet groups have been pushing for a Title II classification well before the FCC debate reached a national level.
One thing we do know, keep sending emails to the FCC and keep making sure they know how you feel about these proposed rules. If you would like to leave a comment with the FCC during their 2 month comment period, please feel free to head on over to the FCC’s official comment form for Net Neutrality.