The FCC Upholds Net Neutrality, Votes to Reclassify Broadband Internet as a “Title II” Utility
The people—and the president—have spoken, and the FCC has listened. They just voted to approve their new “Net Neutrality” rules and reclassify broadband Internet as a utility in the eyes of regulation.
This in itself is a big win for Net Neutrality, or the idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally and ISPs shouldn’t be able to make popular companies like Netflix pay extra due to bandwidth usage. After their last broadband Internet regulatory rules were struck down in court and a flood of public comments on their most recent proposal for new ones, the FCC opted to support reclassifying the Internet as a utility.
Though approved, the new rules will still likely face legal opposition, but the reclassification is more clearly within the scope of the FCC’s powers. That should give them significantly more legal ground to stand on when the big telecom companies come after them, as the last set of rules were struck down on the basis that the FCC was overreaching its authority. Still, opponents of the move will likely say that it will lead to higher taxes, slower Internet speeds, and is an attempt by the FCC to control the Internet.
Engadget reports that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said shortly before the vote,
This proposal has been described by one opponent as ‘A secret plan to regulate the internet.’ Nonsense! This is no more a plan to regulate the internet than the first amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept: Openness, expression, and an absence of gatekeepers telling people what they can do, where they can go, and what they can think.