Net Neutrality: What the FCC’s Decision Means for the US

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the philosophy that an On line service ought not to differentiate between the different websites, software programs, and services that are spread on its network. This can be privately guaranteed, by means of a written agreement between a subscriber and their Internet based Service Provider, or it may well be enforced by the government. Usually when “net neutrality” is spoken about, it refers to the idea of the government enforcing it. The agency which has taken on the objective of guaranteeing net neutrality is the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC’s Recent Net Neutrality Order

On December 21, 2010, the FCC voted in favor of making Internet based Service Providers to adopt net neutrality as a policy. The press release’s title was “FCC Acts to Preserve World-wide-web Freedom and Openness,” as only those who oppose freedom and openness may possibly be opposed to net neutrality. The second page of this section is dedicated to discussing the substantiations of the ruling.

The most sizeable portion of the FCC’s Report and Order on net neutrality was “Rule 2: No Blocking”:

A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Word wide web access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.

A individual employed in the provision involving mobile broadband Online access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network system management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable system management.

The effect of this law is to limit ISPs from determining when they may or may not restrict traffic. The phrase “reasonable computer network management” has its own definition listed in the Report and Order, but it is so broad that it will inevitably permit the FCC to crack down on ISPs whenever it feels like doing so. If they engage in the most common Administrative Law practice, they are likely to litigate against smaller ISPs who have a lesser chance of defending themselves.

Net Neutrality isn’t new.. It previously attempted to regulate the network management practices of Comcast-specifically Comcast’s regulation of peer-to-peer file-sharing on its system. The FCC attempted to justify its actions by stating that it had an “ancillary authority” granted by the broadly worded Communications Act of 1934, which states that the FCC is authorized to “perform any and all acts, make such rules and regulations, and issue such orders, not inconsistent with this chapter, as may be necessary in the execution of its functions” (47 U.S.C.? 154(i)). Comcast later set up a court challenge in opposition to the FCC, and in April 2010 the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia sided with Comcast and granted its order for review of the FCC’s decision.

In granting the order for review, the Court cited another case that it had previously decided, stating that “the allowance of wide latitude in the exercise of delegated powers is not the equivalent of untrammeled freedom to regulate activities over which the statute fails to confer… Commission authority.”

There are numerous economic and constitutional issues with the recent net neutrality legislation from the FCCThis has not stopped the FCC from taking action, however. Aside from the fact that an administrative agency is taking seemingly even greater liberties than those which were struck down in the Comcast case earlier this year, and extinguishing Congress’ wish to debate the law, the businesses which are affected are going to suffer. By simply keeping companies from determining which visitors may possibly be limited, the FCC is going to give them two choices:

1) Deal with overburdened networks;

2) Increase the aggregate network bandwidth but distribute costs evenly so that those who may use the World wide web for only basic browsing and e-mail have to pay for the iTunes downloads of someone else.

Possibly way, it will not look good for ISPs and also their particular customers who use less bandwidth than their fellow subscribers. It’s going to be interesting to watch the coming court cases over the next year or so, which ISPs and possibly affected consumers will no doubt want to launch. Our lawmakers can likely join in the fray, too.

If you would like to learn more about how the new net neutrality law affects you, or would like assistance in considering possible legal options regarding the law, please contact a qualified World wide web law attorney.