FCC Reinstates Net Neutrality


Earlier today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to reinstate net neutrality. Taking place during an April Open Meeting, commissioner Anna M. Gomez voted in favor of restoring federal oversight of broadband internet access service under Title II of the Communications Act. According to a press release, the aim is to ensure the resource is open, safe, and secure for all moving forward.

“Broadband access to the Internet is a critical conduit that is essential for modern life,” said Gomez in the press release. “Protecting this critical infrastructure that is essential to the safety, economy, health, education, and well-being of this country is good public policy. The value is so great that we cannot wait for the flood to arrive before we start to build the levee.”

In essence, the idea of net neutrality is that internet service providers (ISPs) should not be allowed to discriminate by offering paid prioritization for different internet traffic sources, discriminating different types of content by blocking or throttling traffic, and so on. This was first established by the FCC in 2015, and then reversed during the Trump administration in 2017.

In another press release, FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel notes five use cases of protections that net neutrality promises to ensure. These include preventing ISPs from blocking traffic, slowing down content or creating pay-to-play internet fast lanes, providing oversight of broadband outages, and authority to direct foreign-owned companies deemed to be national security threats to discontinue any domestic or international broadband services.

In terms of speech, the FCC noted that it “has no authority to, and no interesting in, policing online speech,” and that the open internet protections will prevent ISPs from doing so. As for “Big Tech,” FCC deemed it as an important but unrelated policy challenge. “Net neutrality is important so that the small and medium-sized companies that are trying to compete with more established companies have a level playing field, and net neutrality would ensure that ‘Big Tech’ can’t just cut a deal with a broadband provider to favor its products over upstart competitors,” the press release read.