May 27, 2024
FCC Restores Net Neutrality Rules

FCC Restores Net Neutrality Rules

Posted April 25, 2024 at 8:44pm by iClarified
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to reinstate net neutrality rules, allowing the agency to regulate broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service.

Through its actions today, the Commission creates a national standard by which it can ensure that broadband internet service is treated as an essential service. Today's vote also makes clear that the Commission will exercise its authority over broadband in a narrowly tailored fashion—without rate regulation, tariffing, or unbundling—to foster continued innovation and investment.

The FCC says that today's vote will give it essentials tools to:
● Protect the Open Internet – Internet service providers will again be prohibited from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization of lawful content, restoring the rules that were upheld by the D.C. Circuit in 2016.
● Safeguard National Security – The Commission will have the ability to revoke the authorizations of foreign-owned entities who pose a threat to national security to operate broadband networks in the U.S. The Commission has previously exercised this authority under section 214 of the Communications Act to revoke the operating authorities of four Chinese state-owned carriers to provide voice services in the U.S. Any provider without section 214 authorization for voice services must now also cease any fixed or mobile broadband service operations in the United States.
● Monitor Internet Service Outages – When workers cannot telework, students cannot study, or businesses cannot market their products because their internet service is out, the FCC can now play an active role.

In a lengthy dissenting option, FCC Commissioner Carr slams the decision as a power grab...

Today's Order is not about "net neutrality." When we abandoned Title II in 2017, proponents of greater government control flooded the zone with apocalyptic rhetoric. Media outlets and politicians mindlessly parroted their claims. They predicted "the end of the Internet as we know it" and that "you'll get the Internet one word at a time." Consumers would have to pay to reach websites. None of it happened. Americans were subjected to one of the greatest hoaxes in regulatory history.

Nor is today's Order about preventing Internet "gatekeepers" from squashing innovation and free expression. Again, check the receipts. After 2017, it was not the ISPs that abused their positions in the Internet ecosystem. It was not the ISPs that blocked links to the New York Post's Hunter Biden laptop story, old Twitter did that. It was not the ISPs that just one day after lobbying the FCC on this Order blocked all posts from a newspaper and removed all links to the outlet after it published a critical article, Facebook did that. It was not the ISPs that earlier this month blocked the links of California-based news organizations from showing up in search results to protest a state law, Google did that. And it was not the ISPs that blocked Beeper Mini, an app that enabled interoperability between iOS and Android messaging, Apple did that.

Since 2017, we have learned that the real abusers of gatekeeper power were not ISPs operating at the physical layer, but Big Tech companies at the application layer. Perversely, today's Order makes Big Tech behemoths even stronger than before.

And today's Order is not about correcting a market failure. Broadband access is more vibrant and competitive than ever, no matter how you slice the reams of data. Americans benefited from lower prices, faster speeds, broader and deeper coverage, increased competition, and accelerated Internet builds.

Here's what the data show. Internet speeds are up 430% since 2017 on the fixed broadband side, and they are up 647% on the mobile side. In real terms, the prices for Internet services have dropped by about 9% since the beginning of 2018, according to BLS CPI data. On the mobile broadband side alone, real prices have dropped by roughly 18% since 2017, according to BLS and industry data. And for the most popular broadband speed tiers, real prices are down 54%, and for the fastest broadband speed tiers, prices are down 55%, over the past 8 years, according to BLS and industry data.

The FCC realizes that the old justifications for Title II will no longer cut it. So, as if nothing ever happened, as if the old predictions were not disproven, the agency invents new justifications. The FCC throws whatever it can think of against the wall to see if anything sticks. The Order now claims Title II is necessary for national security, for public safety, for law enforcement, for pole attachments, for accessibility, for privacy and cybersecurity—the list goes on and on.

But the FCC's latest set of claims fare no better than those trotted out back in 2015. They are simply new pretext to justify an old power grab.

You can read Carr's full dissenting opinion here. The full FCC announcement is here.

FCC Restores Net Neutrality Rules
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