FCC Votes to Enshrine Net Neutrality as Law

The FCC on Thursday voted to start a rulemaking process that would codify net neutrality principles as law, and the comments of support and condemnation quickly followed.

The proposed rules would allow broadband ISPs to enforce “reasonable network management.” However, those companies would not be permitted the following:

  • to prevent any of their users from sending or receiving the lawful content of the user’s choice over the Internet;
  • to prevent any of their users from running the lawful applications or using the lawful services of the user’s choice;
  • to prevent any of their users from connecting to and using on its network the user’s choice of lawful devices that do not harm the network;
  • to deprive any of their users of the user’s entitlement to competition among network providers, application providers, service providers and content providers.

On the other hand, operators would be required to treat lawful content, applications, and services in a nondiscriminatory manner; and to disclose such information concerning network management and other practices as is reasonably required for users and content, application, and service providers to enjoy the protections specified in this rulemaking.

As expected, FCC commissioners passed the measure on a 3-2 vote, with Republicans Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker dissenting in part, saying they don’t see evidence that calls for Internet regulation. Not long after, dozens of organizations issued statements reacting – in varying degrees – to the vote.

CLECs XO Communications and Integra Telecom praised the decision, alongside advocacy group Free Press, Republican Senator Olympia Snowe and others.

Think tanks Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Progress & Freedom Foundation decried the vote, as service providers AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., as well as others, spoke out against the FCC efforts throughout the week.

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