FCC Chairman Reveals Net Neutrality Proposal

Feb 05, 2015

Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler has unveiled his latest net neutrality plan in a Wired op-ed. Referring to the FCC's "authority to implement and enforce open internet protections", Wheeler says:

"These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply-for the first time ever-those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone's permission."

While this sounds like an unmitigated win for net neutrality supporters, however, Stacey Higginbotham, at Gigaom, sees some loopholes in the law. She writes, "For example, this applies to legal content only -no pirated movies - and carriers can argue that they need to block or throttle as part of a network management plan if their network is congested. If they do so, however, they had better be prepared to defend it to the FCC."

Meanwhile, at the Los Angeles Times, Jon Healey points out, "In fact, aside from the three no-no's outlined above, ISPs don't have to get the commission's permission to do anything. Instead, Wheeler's proposal would require consumers or site operators who object to something an ISP is doing to file a complaint, which the FCC's enforcement bureau will then review."

These concerns aside, this is a pretty powerful proposal, which still has to go to the commission.