In a Bold Move, FCC Chair Sets Sights on Net Neutrality Rebirth
In a remarkable development, Jessica Rosenworcel, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair, has unveiled a plan to reintroduce crucial net neutrality regulations swiftly. These rules were dismantled during the Trump administration. The proposed restoration will predominantly revive the open internet rules. The ones that were initially put in place in 2015 during the presidency of Barack Obama.
Rosenworcel is calling for an initial vote on this proposal to take place on October 19. She underlines the urgency of reestablishing these fundamental regulations for a free and equitable internet. This move comes on the heels of a shift in majority control within the five-member FCC. Following the election of President Joe Biden in January 2021.
FCC’s pivotal decision in 2017 to roll back net neutrality rules sent shockwaves through the tech and telecommunications industry. The net neutrality rules prohibited internet service providers from blocking, throttling, and offering paid prioritization. This rollback was reaffirmed just before the 2020 presidential election.
Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has passionately criticized this decision. She states that it placed the FCC on the wrong side of history, law, and public sentiment. She emphasized that reinstating net neutrality is essential to prevent blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. It also addresses the numerous downstream consequences of the repeal.
What is the FCC’s vision behind the decision?
The restoration of net neutrality rules, according to Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, is not intended to impose rate regulations despite an expanded authority for the FCC. Instead, it aims to reinforce the FCC’s ability to ensure that internet service providers effectively tackle internet outages.
Moreover, Chair Rosenworcel has highlighted a national security loophole stemming from the 2018 repeal, which stripped away authorization for broadband services on national security grounds. The proposed reinstatement seeks to mirror the 2015 net neutrality rules, with a notable adjustment allowing the FCC to block authorization for companies under foreign adversaries’ control, citing national security concerns.
A significant legal backdrop to this move is a 2022 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling underscored that the FCC’s 2017 decision to reverse federal net neutrality protections could not prevent state action, leading to several states enacting their net neutrality laws. Presently, approximately 12 states have introduced net neutrality laws or regulations.
Net Neutrality Reinstated- what will be the impact?
The announcement by FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel to restore net neutrality rules has reignited a debate about the future of internet regulation in the United States. Net neutrality, a principle aimed at ensuring equal access to the internet for all users, has been a contentious issue for years. Here are some of the critical impacts and discussions surrounding this development:
- Consumer Protection: At its core, reinstating net neutrality rules is a win for consumers. It means ISPs cannot manipulate your internet experience by slowing down certain websites or prioritizing content from preferred sources. Your access to information remains unimpeded.
- Innovation Thrives: Startups and smaller online ventures can compete on an equal footing with tech giants. Net neutrality prevents powerful corporations from stifling competition by monopolizing internet access.
- Freedom of Expression: A neutral internet ensures that information and ideas remain unrestricted. Content creators, bloggers, and journalists can share their perspectives without fear of being relegated to the digital slow lane.
- National Security: The proposal also addresses national security concerns by allowing the FCC to block the authorization of companies controlled by foreign adversaries. This move aims to close a critical security loophole created by the 2018 repeal.
- Impact on Internet Service Providers: Internet service providers, who have lobbied against net neutrality rules in the past, will be closely watching this development. The reinstatement of these regulations could limit their ability to explore new business models. They also have trouble practicing in the highly competitive broadband market.
- Consumer and Business Implications: The outcome of the FCC’s vote on October 19 and any subsequent actions will have significant implications for consumers, businesses, and the broader digital economy. It could shape how internet access and services are provided and priced in the United States.
The forthcoming vote on October 19 is poised to be a defining moment in the ongoing battle for net neutrality. Chair Jessica Rosenworcel’s determination to reinstate these rules reflects a commitment to preserving the principles of a free and open internet. It signifies a significant shift in the direction of digital policy in the United States. As the vote count begins, the world watches with bated breath to see whether net neutrality will be rekindled, reshaping the online world for years.