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Update: Net Neutrality

Earlier this week, we talked about Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler’s announcement of plans to introduce strong protections in his upcoming proposal for rules on net neutrality.  Now, we have some more details on the plan, which promises to save the free and open Internet.

The FCC released a statement this week that outlined some specifics of the proposed rules (the full proposal has not been made public).  Here’s what the rules would do:

1.) Reclassify the Internet as a utility

The proposal would reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act.  This would give the FCC the broad authority to regulate Internet service as a public utility and enact appropriate consumer protections.  Interestingly, mobile Internet would also be included under this reclassification.

2.) Enact new rules to protect the Open Internet

This one is a Big Deal.  Not only would the FCC say it has the authority to regulate the Internet, but Chairman Wheeler has enumerated specific rules to preserve net neutrality.  Namely, the rules would ban these practices:

  • Blocking:  Internet Service Providers (ISPs) could not block access to any content.
  • Throttling: ISPs could not slow down speed for any content.
  • No Paid Prioritization: ISPs cannot favor certain Internet traffic in exchange for monetary compensation.  In other words, broadband companies cannot create “fast lanes” to speed up traffic for the big players at the expense of smaller businesses and individuals.

These rules seem to be a 180-degree switch from Wheeler’s earlier proposals, which opened the door for ISPs to prioritize web content and squash net neutrality.  But the people have spoken. The FCC received 4 million messages during it’s open comment period demanding stronger net neutrality rules and the preservation of the open Internet.

CUB members have spoken, as well.  Almost 3,000 have signed a petition to the FCC demanding a free and open Internet.  If you haven’t signed yet, send a message today.  You still have time to add  your voice before the FCC votes on Wheeler’s proposal Feb. 26.

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