Last fall, the movement for net neutrality got itself some major backing, as President Obama voiced strong support for regulations that would ensure an even playing field for users and content providers alike, prohibiting paid prioritization and blocking of otherwise legal content. While that was big progress, the president doesn’t set these rules: the FCC does. In the months since, we’ve been looking forward to the agency formally addressing the matter, and we’ve known to expect the proposal and voting on new rules sometime this month. Today, FCC head Tom Wheeler spells out his intentions, for which he calls “the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC.”
Later this week, Wheeler will submit a proposal that will use modernized Title II (common carrier) regulation to enforce open internet rules for wired broadband and wireless services alike.
While his proposal will stop short of implementing Title II rate regulation or tariffs, it will enforce bright-line rules for how providers will be able to control traffic through their networks. Specifically, paid prioritization (ie, fast lanes) will be banned, as will content-specific throttling or blocking (with exceptions for illegal activities).
ISPs and mobile carriers are almost certain to challenge any such action, but formal Title II reclassification should give the FCC a much stronger position from which to enforce rules than it had when attempting previous net neutrality efforts.
This story is far from over, but Wheeler’s efforts mark some major progress towards securing the future of the internet for both today’s users and tomorrow’s alike.