FCC Enacts Extensive Net Neutrality Rules

FCC Enacts Extensive Net Neutrality Rules: The Battle Has Just Begun

Host – Tim Bremel

Tim is WCLO’s Program Director and has been since 1998, Tim actually started working for WCLO/WJVL as a commercial copywriter in 1987. Tim now hosts the morning talk show. He also serves as the station’s webmaster and promotions director.

Tim_BremelWCLOWCLO (1230 AM)

WCLO is a radio station broadcasting a News Talk Information format. Licensed to Janesville, Wisconsin, USA, the station serves the Janesville area. The station is currently owned by Southern Wisconsin Broadcasting, LLC. and features programing from CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Network and Westwood One.

Background

Net Neutrality has been one of the biggest political hot button issues for quite sometime

First off Let’s Define some Terms

 

What is an ISP?

An Internet service provider, or ISP, is a company or organization that sells you access to the Internet. These companies, like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, Charter, Cox, Optimum, Frontier, Suddenlink, Cable One, Mediacom, Sprint, T-Mobile do not own the Internet, they just provide the infrastructure needed to access it, like underground fiber optic cables.

What is Net Neutrality?

Network neutrality, or net neutrality, is a term first coined by Tim Wu to describe the preservation of online innovation by prohibiting companies from discriminating against some users and content, or prioritizing some content over others. It guarantees a level playing field in which Internet users do not have to pay Internet service providers more for better access to online content, and content generators do not have to pay additional fees to ensure users can access their websites or apps.

So when did all the talk about Net Neutrality Start?

2002 – The FCC under the Bush Administration ruled that cable broadband should be classified under Title I as an information service and should not be subjected to regulation, in order to ”encourage new investment” and market competition. This was challenged and upheld by the US Supreme Court.

2005 – The FCC issued an Internet policy statement that attempted to ensure ISPs “operated in a neutral manner” by offering consumers choice in content, providers and devices. But because it was merely a policy statement, it came with no enforcement teeth.

2010 – The FCC passed the rules known as “The Open Internet Order” by a 3-2 vote. The Open Internet order implemented a light touch net neutrality rule approach. An approach that both Verizon and Google suggested.

The First U-Turn

2011 – Verizon, yes the same Verizon that proposed a policy adopted by the FCC then sued the FCC saying that the commission (FCC) did not have regulatory authority to impose net neutrality rules on any Internet Service Provider.

Wait didn’t they propose the policy in the first place? Well yes, but it was only because of shareholder pressure.

2014 – The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC did not have the regulatory power over broadband to issue those rules. The court, however, said that the FCC could attempt to reclassify the Internet under “Title II” and that would give the FCC the authority to regulate the Internet.

Since The Court Ruling

2014 – FCC’s website shut down multiple times due to the onslaught of complaints on the FCC’s Open Internet comment process, known as the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).

2014 – The Internet rose up when more than 40,000 websites protested during the Internet Slowdown protest. Millions of people commented to the FCC. Net neutrality went viral. Protesters blockaded Chairman Tom Wheeler’s driveway, protested on the FCC’s steps, rallied on the White House lawn, and unfurled banners in FCC meetings.

2014 – White House website flooded with request for Net Neutrality

2014 – Congressional Websites flooded with request for Net Neutrality

2015 The FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler decided to go with the reclassification of the Internet under Title II in order to regulate it.

2015 – The FCC passes on a 3-2 vote new regulations to reclassify the Internet under “Title II.”

However as of today the full text of the regulations have not been made public.

So Now What?

Hurry up and Wait!

The FCC’s new rules will have to move through the bureaucratic chain of command, getting a rubber stamp from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which could take as long as 120 days, according to details of the rule-making process on the FCC’s website.

The rules will then be published in the Federal Register, the official journal of the government that is a daily collection of proposed regulations and public notices.

The regulations will be challenged in court.

Comcast will file suit
AT&T will File suit
Verizon will file suit

“We probably will see the mother of all court challenges on probably a dozen different legal matters.

Congress could also vote to nullify the FCC rules, however President Obama, who has voiced his support for net neutrality, could then issue a presidential veto.

So it’s safe to say nothing is going to happen for a while.

The next big thing to watch is the Internet Tax Freedom Act. This law, is set to expire in December 2015. If not renewed by Congress and signed by the President watch for new state and local taxation on Internet access regardless of its FCC regulatory classification.


 

Sound bites:

Title II Regulation for an Open Internet is like using a nuke to kill a fly . . .

In a very short period of time we have avoided any real and serious conversation regarding the issues to develop a real comprehensive framework for all things Internet.

To most of us the Internet is 20 years old. Yet no one could argue how ubiquitous it has become in almost everyone around the world.

In the years to come this issue could certainly become as big or even q bigger legacy for President Obama than the “Affordable Care Act” or Obamacare.

This issue isn’t settled yet. Unlike Immigration and Healthcare people interact with the Internet multiple times a day, sometime multiple times an hour. This issue may likely become one of the biggest campaign issues of the 2016 elections.