FCC chairman issues edict on new net neutrality rules

Summary:Scheduled to be enforced by the end of the year, Internet service providers will need to disclose all "relevant information" and policies for governing networks.


Reports started spreading on Wednesday that the Federal Communications Commission would be implementing a new commercial angle for net neutrality, and those theories have been confirmed.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler published a statement on Thursday morning, commencing with the intention of "setting the record straight" over what has ballooned into a heavily debated topic in the tech world and beyond over the last six months.

Scheduled to be enforced by the end of the year, Internet service providers (ISPs) will need to disclose all "relevant information" and policies for governing networks.

The FCC also stipulated that ISPs cannot "act in a commercially unreasonable manner," meaning ISPs can't block legal content nor can they favor traffic from one entity over another.

Wheeler clarified that the "commercially unreasonable" test has been written to deflect "harm to competition and consumers stemming from abusive market activity."

To recall, Verizon Wireless won a court challenge to net neutrality rules , leading the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to send the rules back to the FCC in January.

This sparked a debate about the future of the Internet as the move essentially meant broadband companies would be able to charge tech companies, such as Netflix or Hulu, more money for fast connections needed to deliver their services.

It was then left up to the FCC to rewrite the rules. In February , FCC chairman Tom Wheeler published a proposal he asserted will preserve the Internet as "an open platform for innovation and expression."

Fears have been mounting that changes to net neutrality would result in Internet censorship, routine network throttling upon certain users and services, the shifting of heavy fees from ISPs and placing the burden on consumers, or all the above.

Representing one of the biggest companies that wanted to preserve the old net neutrality regulations, CEO and founder Reed Hastings published a memo in March, lambasting the lawsuit won by Verizon Wireless while also calling out "Internet trolls."

In direct response to the Hastings memo, AT&T's public policy chief Jim Cicconi presented a rebuttal one day later.

Much like Hastings, Cicconi didn't mince words, and that's where the common ground came to an end.

"As we all know, there is no free lunch, and there’s also no cost-free delivery of streaming movies," Cicconi wrote at the time, "Someone has to pay that cost. Mr. Hastings’ arrogant proposition is that everyone else should pay but Netflix. That may be a nice deal if he can get it. But it’s not how the Internet, or telecommunication for that matter, has ever worked."

Topics: Government, Legal, Mobility, Networking, Telcos


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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