The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Friday that they plan to vote on so-called “net neutrality” legislation in February. It is still unclear whether the FCC plans to pursue Title II regulation, which would subject Internet providers to the same rules as telephone companies.
FCC Schedules Net Neutrality Vote
As reported by the Washington Post, the FCC has scheduled a February vote for net neutrality regulations designed to prevent Internet providers from creating Internet “fast lanes” that favor companies willing to shell out extra money to prioritize their traffic. On its website, the FCC affirms its desire to keep the Internet “open,” a principle it deems synonymous with the net neutrality movement. The FCC has not revealed the extent they desire to regulate Internet providers, but Post sources indicate the regulations may prove “aggressive.”
Analysts and officials close to the agency say that momentum has been building recently for far more aggressive regulations than Wheeler had initially proposed.
Net Neutrality: Title I or Title II?
One must wonder if the “aggressive” nature of the proposed FCC rules will include Title II regulation of Internet service providers (ISPs). Currently, ISPs are subject to minimal regulation under Title I of the Federal Communications Act of 1934 (as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996). However, net neutrality proponents–including President Obama–desire the FCC to regulate ISPs under Title II of the Act, which would subject ISPs to the same rules as telephone companies.
However, Berin Szoka, president of nonprofit think tank Tech Freedom argues Title II legislation would damage the Internet.
Title II means the very opposite of net neutrality. Even under Title II, the FCC can’t legally ban all paid prioritization — only regulate it to make sure that prices are just and reasonable. In fact, Title II would authorize broadband providers to charge some price to content and service providers for carrying their traffic to users — and there’s no precedent for the FCC from “forbearing” from this requirement in a market that it claims is a “terminating access monopoly.” Title II would raise a host of other problems, including choking broadband competition, inviting regulation of the rest of the Internet and validating Russia and China’s push to have the International Telecommunications Union regulate the Internet as a telecom service.
Consequently, Tech Freedom has launched a “Don’t Break the Net” campaign to oppose Title II regulation.
Images from Shutterstock.
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