FCC Chair Outlines New Net Neutrality Approach

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler says that the agency is still committed to proposing open-internet rules in the wake of a court decision invalidating its previous standards, but his agency is still working on the details.

It looks like the Federal Communications Commission will give proposing net neutrality rules another shot.

On Tuesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that the agency plans a new open-internet effort. The announcement comes a month after the commission’s previous net neutrality standards, known as the Open Internet Order, were invalidated by a federal appeals court. Wheeler said the new rules would focus on fostering increased transparency, preventing efforts that block traffic online, and encouraging internet providers not to discriminate regarding traffic.

“The D.C. Circuit recognized the importance of the Open Internet Order’s ban on blocking internet traffic, but ruled that the commission had not provided sufficient legal rationale for its existence,” Wheeler wrote in a statement. “We will carefully consider how, consistent with the court opinion, we can ensure that edge providers are not unfairly blocked, explicitly or implicitly, from reaching consumers, as well as ensuring that consumers can continue to access any lawful content and services they choose.”

Wheeler’s statement noted that the FCC will likely not appeal the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Verizon v. FCC, but he left open the possibility that the agency might reclassify internet providers as telecommunications providers subject to regulation under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. For now, as Ars Technica notes, the FCC will likely handle regulation “on a case-by-case basis.”

Early reaction to the move was mixed, with the National Cable and Telecommunications Association saying it looked forward to working with Wheeler on the issue but pushing back against the possibility of new regulations. The activist group Free Press was more critical, saying more “decisive action and clear protections” were needed.

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Check out related Associations Now coverage:

Net Neutrality Ruling Draws Strong Response From Industry, Activist Groups,” January 15, 2014

How a Net Neutrality Battle Played Out in France,” January 8, 2013

FCC to Wireless Group: Unlock Phones Voluntarily, or Else,” November 18, 2013

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (photo via FCC's Facebook page)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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