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Tag Archives: net neutrality

New Net Neutrality Rules under Legal and Congressional Scrutiny

New Net Neutrality rules were approved by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) on February 26, 2015. On April 13, 2015, the rules were published on the Federal Register (see https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/13/2015-07841/protecting-and-promoting-the-open-internet#h-147). The new rules currently have an effective date of June 12, 2015. The new rules prohibit broadband and mobile carriers from making efforts to slow Internet traffic or block specific web sites. Paid prioritization, or commercial deals between Internet service providers and content companies for preferential treatment, is also banned. Broadband Internet access has been reclassified as a public utility or common carrier, which is likely to increase regulation on the industry.

It did not take very long for the new rules to be subjected to legal scrutiny. Over the past few weeks several big companies, such as AT&T, have already filed lawsuits seeking to invalidate the new rules. Further, bills have recently been introduced into Congress seeking to challenge the new rules. These legal and congressional challenges were not unexpected and show that enacting the new Net Neutrality rules was the first, but definitely not the last step, in what appears to be a long fight over the Internet.

Daniel Devine
Santucci Priore, P.L.
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FCC Proposal Regarding Net Neutrality

This entry is an update on a previous blog entry regarding the Net Neutrality debate. Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Chairman Tom Wheeler recently announced that he plans to circulate a proposal implementing Net Neutrality Regulations, including classifying Internet Service Providers as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, provisions blocking broadband providers from charging premiums for faster access or blocking website content, and applying such provisions to wireless providers for the first time. This proposal is likely the strongest open Internet policy proposed by the FCC to date. The full text of the announcement can be found here. Although this proposal still needs to be voted upon, it appears that it is a step in favor of Net Neutrality. Our firm will continue to monitor the outcome of this debate and considering the accompanying legal effects.

Daniel Devine
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Shareholder

The Net Neutrality Debate

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Over the past few months one of the most talked about topics has been net neutrality. What is net neutrality? It is the principle that all content and applications on the Internet should be accessible to users equally, regardless of source, and without service providers being able to restrict access to specific websites or services. This principle would seem ensure basic First Amendment rights. However, the debate has begun as a result of a court ruling in Verizon v. F.C.C., 740 F.3d 623 (C.A.D.C. 2014), which overturned the net neutrality rules of anti-discrimination and anti-blocking. Currently, there are no rules in place to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or restricting content. As a result, there is a need to establish principles governing net neutrality.

Proponents of net neutrality polices argue that Internet service providers may prevent users from accessing certain websites or applications or “degrade the quality” of user’s access to certain websites or applications, “either as a means of favoring their own competing content or services or to enable them to collect fees. . .” See, Verizon, 740 F.3d at 629. An example cited in Verizon, warns that if unchecked, an Internet service provider could limit user ability to access a publication like the New York Times website “if it wanted to spike traffic to its own news website, or it might degrade the quality of the connection to a search website like Bing if a competitor like Google paid for prioritized access.” Id. Those against net neutrality policies may argue that the Internet is being misused by a significant number of people to download software, movies, and music illegally and fees should be implemented as compensation. Or that net neutrality policy would be too strict and limit Internet investment and innovation. President Barack Obama has weighed in on the debate urging for net neutrality policies to be implemented. See, http://www.whitehouse.gov/net-neutrality for further information. Which side of the debate are you on?

The decision regarding implementing net neutrality policies is for the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to decide. Currently, the FCC is reviewing millions of public comments in an attempt to shape such policies. Regardless of which side of the debate you support, the outcome will have a significant impact on the future of the Internet. Our firm will be closely monitoring the outcome of this debate and considering the accompanying legal effects.

Daniel Devine
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Shareholder

Image Credit: Flickr User balleyne