It didn't break the Internet, but the weight of the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) 400-page Open Internet Order, published Thursday, nearly brought the commission's Web site to its knees. In fact, the Web site sometimes failed to load the full document as large numbers of fans and foes alike presumably tried to download the order at the same time.
The much-anticipated order provides details about the FCC's historic 3-2 vote last month in favor of Net neutrality. The order establishes what it calls "clear, bright-line rules" against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of content delivery by Internet service providers. All three of those practices invariably harm the open Internet, according to the FCC.
The document also stipulates that service providers cannot act in ways that would result in "unreasonable interference or unreasonable disadvantage to consumers or edge providers." In other words, ISPs cannot act as gatekeepers that would "reduce the rate of innovation at the edge and, in turn, the likely rate of improvements to network infrastructure, the FCC said.
'Exactly What the Public Fought for'
While proponents of Net neutrality cheered last month's FCC decision, which was advocated by record-breaking millions of supporters who submitted their comments to the commission, the vote represents a battle won, rather than a war. Both sides acknowledge the issue is likely to continue being argued in the courts for at least the next couple years.
On Thursday, however, supporters saw a reason to celebrate with the publication of the FCC's order. "This is exactly what the public fought for," Evan Greer told us. "This is an unprecedented victory, really, against entrenched power."
Greer, who is Campaign Director of Fight for the Future, a pro-Net neutrality organization, said he and other members of the group were still reading through the FCC's order, but so far they said the document was very clear and written in a way people can understand.
As described, the FCC's rules will help preserve the Internet as "a platform that people can use to change the world in the future," Greer said. "The FCC is clearly moving in the right direction."
Along with its order, the FCC also published an accompanying document it said was aimed at separating fact from fiction about the Net neutrality decision. The new order does not impose utility-style regulatory burdens on Internet service providers, regulate retail broadband rates, impose new taxes or fees, or regulate Internet content, applications, routing or services, the commission said.
"The order does not regulate the Internet," according to the document. "It applies to broadband providers -- the companies that connect people's homes to the public Internet. In other words, the order protects consumers' and innovators' 'last-mile' access to what's on the Internet -- the applications, content or services that ride on it and the devices that attach to it."
'Confirms Our Fears'
Opponents of Net neutrality, on the other hand, voiced concerns about the FCC order. A spokesperson for Time Warner Cable, which -- along with Comcast and Verizon -- had strongly opposed changes to how the Internet is regulated, declined to comment. However, the spokesperson referred to a statement released by the National Cable & Telecommunication Association, a trade industry group.
"Today's release of the Open Internet order only confirms our fear that the commission has gone well beyond creating enforceable open Internet rules, and has instead instituted a regulatory regime change for the Internet that will lead to years of litigation, serious collateral consequences for consumers, and ongoing market uncertainty that will slow America's quest to advance broadband deployment and adoption," the statement noted.
"The world finally gets to read and understand just what the White House, acting by proxy via a partisan FCC vote, has done to impose the federal government's heavy hand to regulate the Internet as a utility," said U.S. Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota. "We look forward to working our way through the 300+ pages of this Washington manifesto." Thune helped lead a Republican effort to curtail the FCC's regulatory powers over the Internet ahead of the commission's vote.
Thune sits on the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has scheduled a March 18 hearing to discuss the FCC's decision. All five commissioners are expected to testify at the hearing, which is titled, "Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission."
Posted: 2015-03-13 @ 8:10am PT
"fixing something that wasn't broken unlike Wall Street "
It wasn't broken until Verizon decided to sue and get the previous version of net neutrality removed.
Posted: 2015-03-13 @ 6:46am PT
I am so happy that the FCC has supported the common person in the street instead of Wall Street or monied interests. This is that rare blow for the citizen's of America. Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 2015-03-13 @ 6:34am PT
fixing something that wasn't broken unlike Wall Street