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Legal Articles

Net Neutrality Revisited
Rather, what has generated most of the attention—and potential controversy—is the FCC Chairman's proposal to start regulating broadband providers, wired and wireless, as public utilities under Title II of the Communications Act. The issue of "net neutrality" has occupied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or "the Commission") for years. With the FCC poised to adopt a new regulatory regime for broadband providers at its meeting on February 26, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently released the outlines of his proposal—which is anticipated to be adopted on a 3-2 party-line vote. This Alert provides a brief summary of some of the issues and viewpoints, pro and con. But, first, here is some background. Net neutrality comprises several different concepts. As formulated by the FCC Chairman, they reduce to the following: no blocking access to lawful content, applications, services and devices that do not harm the network; no throttling, i.e. impairing or degrading lawful traffic based on content, applications, services or (non-harmful) devices; and no prioritizing traffic based on the receipt of consideration. In addition, the Chairman has said the proposal will provide a standard by which new practices are deemed lawful or not; and it will ensure that broadband provider practices are transparent. These principles would be subject to an exception for reasonable network management by the provider, as well as (likely) the needs of law enforcement and public safety.

United States | 03/27/2015


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