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FCC Set to Share New Net Neutrality Plan

12 Feb, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is close to unveiling a plan to reinstate Net Neutrality rules, while Congress is looking to take action as well.

According to a report from CNET, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, speaking at the University of Colorado Law School Feb. 10, said the FCC has a plan to reinstate Net Neutrality regulations, which were struck down Jan. 14 by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The court ruled the FCC doesn’t have the authority to regulate how Internet is delivered to consumers.

"In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the Court of Appeals invited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet," Wheeler said. "I accept that invitation, and in the coming days, I will be outlining how I propose to proceed."

One option open to the FCC is to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers, a move recently backed by former FCC commissioner Michael Copps, who wrote in a blog post (for media and telecommunications policy group Benton Foundation) that it’s the simplest solution, if not an easy one.

“Without this step, we are playing fast-and-loose with the most opportunity-creating technology in all of communications history,” he wrote. “Without this step, we are guaranteeing an Internet future of toll-booths, gatekeepers and preferential carriage. Without this step, we stifle innovation, put consumers under the thumb of special interests, and pull the props from under the kind of rich civic dialogue that only open and non-discriminatory communications can provide.”

House Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) have introduced the ‘‘Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014’’ bill (with a Senate companion bill introduced by Sen. Ed Markey; D-Mass.), aiming to restore the FCC’s 2010 Net Neutrality rules, at least until the Commission can take new action.

“The Internet is an engine of economic growth because it has always been an open platform for competition and innovation,” Waxman said. “Our bill very simply ensures that consumers can continue to access the content and applications of their choosing online. The FCC can and must quickly exercise the authorities the D.C. Circuit recognized to reinstate the Open Internet rules. Our bill makes clear that consumers and innovators will be protected in the interim.”

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), along with four other senators, wrote an open letter to Wheeler Feb. 11, urging “swift action to preserve net neutrality to keep the Internet a level playing field for everyone.”

"Consumers, entrepreneurs and innovators deserve to know their right to view or use the content and services of their choice online will be protected,” the letter reads.

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