Last month the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) lost a decision that struck down key rules preventing Internet service providers from giving different types of data priority on their networks. But the agency now says that it will make a new push to enact regulations that strengthen net neutrality, the concept that all information on the Internet should be treated equitably.
While this sounds like good news for consumers, Reuters reports that analysts are concerned new regulations could spark partnerships between content providers like Netflix and broadband service providers if they’re not put in place explicitly or quickly enough.
“In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit invited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet. I intend to accept that invitation by proposing rules that will meet the court’s test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among Internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how Internet Service Providers manage traffic, and enhancing competition,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement following the move.
Rather than seek an appeal for the previous court ruling, the FCC has indicated that it will evaluate and propose new ways to enforce net neutrality. The announcement also indicates that the commission will not seek to have broadband internet service reclassified as a public utility, we had been suggested by public interest groups, and would give the commissions much more sweeping power over Internet services.
In individual statements released on Feb. 19, the commissioners of the FCC unveiled their opinions and plan regarding the effort to reevaluate regulations surrounding Internet. Not surprisingly, the group was split along its partisan lines, with its two Republican representatives warning against government over-involvement.
"I am deeply concerned by the announcement that the FCC will begin considering new ways to regulate the Internet," FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said. “It appears that the FCC is tilting at windmills here. Instead of fostering investment and innovation through deregulation, the FCC will be devoting its resources to adopting new rules without any evidence that consumers are unable to access the content of their choice.”
Regardless of the approach that the FCC decides on any plan will need to be voted on amongst the group. With Democrats outweighing republicans three to two, it’s likely we’ll see new regulation in the near future.
For more on the Net Neutrality debate, check out these stories: