FCC's Net Neutrality Rules and Lawsuits Closer to Reality
The looming battle over the Federal Communication Commission's new Net neutrality rules drew one step closer this week. On Wednesday, the FCC formally filed its February 26 regulatory order with the Federal Register, the official publication of the United States government. The rules will take effect 60 days after publication in the Register.
A number of lawsuits have already been filed against the FCC's Net neutrality rules. However, those may be dismissed because they were filed too soon, since the rules cannot legally be challenged until they have been published in the Register. If the suits are in fact dismissed, it will be a relatively simple matter for them to be refiled.
In its order, the FCC declared that it was establishing three "bright-line" rules to protect Net neutrality: no blocking of "legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices"; no throttling, i.e., impairment or degrading of "lawful Internet traffic"; and "no paid prioritization" of traffic.
While opponents to the new rules say that they support the concept of an open Internet, they are concerned that increased regulation of broadband communication will limit innovation. In a speech Wednesday before the Association of National Advertisers, FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, who voted against the proposed rules in February, raised exactly that concern.
"The FCC adopted a vague catch-all rule that it will use to judge whether providers’ practices are reasonable," O'Rielly said. "For example, it will use that standard to decide the lawfulness of sponsored data plans that allow consumers to access content they prefer without counting against their data limits. Other attempts by providers to differentiate themselves through innovative partnerships and pricing models may also end up on the chopping block."
O'Rielly's comments echo those of USTelecom CEO Walter McCormick, one of the most vigorous opponents of the rules.
"In reversing longstanding bipartisan precedent, and imposing public utility regulation on the most dynamic sector of our nation’s economy, the FCC is adopting policies that were not designed -- nor ever intended -- for the Internet," McCormick said in February. "History has shown that common carrier regulation slows innovation, chills investment, and leads to increased costs on consumers.
Net Neutrality and Privacy
One other issue that is beginning to gain the attention of critics is the potential impact of the FCC's new rules on consumer privacy.
On March 30, the FCC announced that it will be holding a workshop for the public on April 28 at 10 a.m. at the FCC's headquarters in Washington, D.C., "to explore the commission's role in protecting the privacy of consumers that use broadband Internet access service."
O'Rielly told his audience of advertisers that he is concerned about how the FCC might proceed on privacy issues. "What does this mean as a practical matter?" he asked. "It is hard to know for certain, but I could foresee the FCC trying to police how information is collected, used, shared, and stored, as well as disclosures to consumers about those practices."
Posted: 2015-04-03 @ 5:31pm PT
The issue of net neutrality has affected my life in ways I cannot begin to describe. My fiancee who was arrested in a populated shopping center(cameras everywhere that all operate on a network) suddenly were all having" technical difficulties" at the time of his arrest. Those cams would have shown what really happened when he was arrested, not what dirty cops reported. He is facing 35 years. He even had witnesses but the judge decided we have to go to trial. I began looking up information trying to help with his case and my laptop began displaying strange behaviors when logged onto "Smart Riverside" (the public free network). This was witnessed by myself and my friends. I receiving "error" messages when I was trying to submit complaints/reports to outside law enforcement. This was also happening at the Cybrary (Chicago Ave), The Riverside downtown library, and at my sister's house on her computer! I, along with my sis filed complaints about this with Internal Affairs at the police station in downtown Riverside in April 2014.
The sites that I was trying to submit complaints to were, The White House, Homeland Security, FBI(ic3.gov), CIA, Internal Affairs, The Black Voice, Kcal, CBS, US Post Master General. All those sites, whenever I tried to use them to report the corrupt activities that were going on in Riverside were having technical issues. I was getting messages on my computers like "invalid email" no matter whose (people I knew) email I used. "Google is undefined", " problems with this web page will cause it not to function properly", just to name a few of the errors as to why I could not let outside enforcement know what was happening in our town. It took me a few weeks but I finally figured out how to get past the blocks. I went to LA and began using the l public computers out there and began experiencing the same thing. When I stayed in Hollywood for a few weeks, I had none of those problems. I figured out that it was the low income areas (where I live) that the blocks are placed on. Corruption/organized crime rings run rampant in the poor neighborhoods. My phone calls, even my mail was tampered with as well. All forms of communication. Net neutrality is important to people like us,we will have a voice that cannot be blocked.