Net neutrality rules finally published

Cue the lawsuits, the FCC’s new rules take effect Nov. 20

In a move that will almost assuredly spur a spate of legal challenges that will clog courtrooms almost as much as wireless Internet providers have been slowing down network connections, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally published its long-awaited and hotly debated rules for Internet traffic.

The “net neutrality” rules, which the FCC passed late last December, were published in the Federal Register last Friday. They will go into effect Nov. 20.

The FCC adopted three basic protections intended to prohibit providers from discriminating against legal Internet traffic and enforce transparency:

“First, transparency: fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of their broadband services,” the commission wrote. “Second, no blocking: fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services. Third, no unreasonable discrimination: fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.”

Less than a month after the FCC adopted the rules, Verizon Communications filed a federal lawsuit to block the order but was rebuffed by the D.C. Circuit, which ruled the lawsuit was “fatally premature.” The court said that challenges to federal regulations can only be filed in the 30 days after the FCC publishes them in the Federal Register. 

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