FCC Proposes to Restore Net Neutrality Rules in the US


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced its intention to bring back the net neutrality rules that were repealed by the previous administration in 2018. The rules, which were adopted in 2015, aimed to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating or favoring certain websites, applications, or services over others.

What are net neutrality rules and why are they important?

Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally, regardless of its source, destination, content, or application. This means that ISPs should not block, throttle, or charge extra fees for accessing certain websites or services, such as streaming platforms, social media, or online gaming. Net neutrality also ensures that consumers have the freedom to choose what they want to see and do online, without interference from ISPs.

Net neutrality rules are important for preserving the open and competitive nature of the internet, which fosters innovation, diversity, and democracy. Without net neutrality, ISPs could potentially manipulate the online market by favoring their own or affiliated services, or by creating fast and slow lanes for different types of traffic. This could harm consumers, small businesses, startups, and marginalized groups, who rely on the internet for communication, education, entertainment, and empowerment.

How did net neutrality rules change under the Trump administration?

In 2015, under the Obama administration, the FCC adopted the Open Internet Order, which classified broadband internet as a “common carrier” service under Title II of the Communications Act. This gave the FCC the authority to enforce net neutrality rules and protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices by ISPs.

FCC Proposes to Restore Net Neutrality

However, in 2017, under the Trump administration, the FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, voted to repeal the Open Internet Order and reclassify broadband internet as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act. This effectively removed the FCC’s legal basis to regulate ISPs and left net neutrality rules to voluntary commitments by the industry. The repeal took effect in April 2018, despite widespread public opposition and legal challenges.

What is the FCC’s new proposal to reinstate net neutrality rules?

On September 26, 2023, the FCC, now led by Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, announced that it would consider a proposal to restore net neutrality rules, based on the 2015 Open Internet Order. The proposal would once again classify broadband internet as a “common carrier” service under Title II of the Communications Act, and prohibit ISPs from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing certain traffic. The proposal would also give the FCC the power to block authorization of websites that could be controlled by foreign adversaries, citing national security concerns.

The FCC said that the repeal of net neutrality rules in 2018 “put the agency on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the public.” The FCC also said that “today we begin a process to make this right.” The FCC asked for an initial vote on the proposal to take place on October 19, 2023, followed by further votes and comments from the public and stakeholders.

What are the reactions and implications of the FCC’s proposal?

The FCC’s proposal to bring back net neutrality rules has been welcomed by many advocates, activists, and lawmakers, who have been campaigning for the restoration of the rules since their repeal. They argue that net neutrality is essential for preserving the internet as a public good and a platform for free expression, innovation, and social justice.

However, the FCC’s proposal has also faced criticism and opposition from some ISPs, industry groups, and Republican lawmakers, who claim that net neutrality rules are unnecessary, burdensome, and harmful for the internet economy. They argue that the FCC’s proposal would stifle investment, innovation, and competition, and that the internet is better off with a light-touch regulatory approach.

The FCC’s proposal is likely to face legal and political challenges, as well as uncertainty over the future composition of the commission, which currently has a 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans. The outcome of the FCC’s proposal could have significant implications for the future of the internet in the US and beyond, as well as for the millions of Americans who depend on it for their daily lives.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here