Today, the Wall Street Journal, along with other news outlets, indicated that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will propose strong net neutrality rules banning paid prioritization on February 26 during the agency’s next open meeting.
The author predicts that Chairman Wheeler will move to enact net neutrality rules through Title II of the Communications Act. Although the author does not specify how Chairman Wheeler intends to address specific Title II regulations, Public Knowledge is encouraged by indications that the Chairman is strongly considering Title II reclassification and remains hopeful that the forthcoming details will create strong rules to protect an Open Internet.
The following can be attributed to Kate Forscey, Internet Rights Fellow at Public Knowledge:
“Public Knowledge is encouraged by reports that the Federal Communications Commission Chairman has decided to reclassify broadband internet service as Title II. This critical move preserves the egalitarianism that has been the hallmark of the internet experience since its inception. After spending more than a decade pursuing other ill-suited alternatives to address authority over broadband, it appears the Chairman is finally embracing a straightforward legal framework that provides it flexible, enforceable authority to protect consumers and an Open Internet. We encourage all of his fellow commissioners to support him.
“The Chairman’s proposal will also reportedly make the wise decision to apply Open Internet protections to both wireline and mobile services. Such parity will ensure that consumers who access the internet via mobile services are not relegated to second-class internet service.
“The report also suggests that Chairman Wheeler’s proposal will address interconnection, the back-end agreements between edge providers and internet service providers, in some capacity. This is another crucial step in ensuring ISPs cannot move discrimination to a different part of the network.
“We remain cautious about reports that the FCC will exercise ‘broad forbearance.’ What precisely that entails is not yet clear, but we urge the Commission to be prudent here. Any decisions to actively forbear must not inadvertently foreclose the Commission from addressing other equally critical policy objectives that Title II enables.
“We have come a long way since the Commission’s official proposal last May, and the finish line is in sight. Millions of people spoke out against a proposal that would have allowed a few powerful internet providers to choose winners and losers on the internet. It appears the Commission has listened and is prepared to do its job to preserve the Open Internet for all Americans.
“Public Knowledge looks forward to seeing the details of the final rule. We hope that the Commission stays the course to enact strong rules to protect the rights of all Americans who depend on the internet as the critical communications network of our time.”