FCC Chairman Promises To Regulate The Internet As A Utility If Necessary To Protect Net Neutrality
In a strongly worded blog post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has further explained his net neutrality views, detailing how he plans to implement them.
Most importantly, Wheeler has promised to regulate Internet service as a utility if necessary: “If the proposal before us now turns out to be insufficient or if we observe anyone taking advantage of the rule, I won’t hesitate to use Title II.”
However, in his estimation, the recent Verizon case “laid out a blueprint for how the FCC could use Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 19996 to create Open Internet rules that would stick.” This allows the FCC to move quickly. Wheeler doesn’t want to “leave the market unprotected for multiple more years while lawyers for the biggest corporate players tie the FCC’s protections up in court.”
Title II would require that.
Wheeler did not state plainly that so-called “fast lanes” for some content will be banned. The FCC will, in his words, “look skeptically on special exceptions.”
Here is the criteria by which the FCC would judge actions to be not “commercially reasonable”:
- Something that harms consumers is not commercially reasonable. For instance, degrading service in order to create a new “fast lane” would be shut down.
- Something that harms competition is not commercially reasonable. For instance, degrading overall service so as to force consumers and content companies to a higher priced tier would be shut down.
- Providing exclusive, prioritized service to an affiliate is not commercially reasonable. For instance, a broadband provider that also owns a sports network should not be able to give a commercial advantage to that network over another competitive sports network wishing to reach viewers over the Internet.
- Something that curbs the free exercise of speech and civic engagement is not commercially reasonable. For instance, if the creators of new Internet content or services had to seek permission from ISPs or pay special fees to be seen online such action should be shut down.
The FCC is currently taking comments on its proposals via email: [email protected]