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Republicans plan to preempt FCC and enforce real net neutrality

by Jon Brodkin House and Senate Republicans have scheduled hearings next Wednesday to propose legislation that would enforce net neutrality rules while forbidding the Federal Communications Commission from regulating broadband providers as common carriers. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to unveil his net neutrality plan on February 5 and put it to a commission vote on February 26. He is expected to propose reclassifying broadband as a common carrier service to be regulated under Title II of the Communications Act, which is also used to regulate the landline phone system. Wheeler intends to forbear from the more restrictive parts of Title II, choosing not to impose rate regulation on Internet providers. But ISPs and Republicans in Congress oppose reclassification and are willing to accept net neutrality rules in exchange for taking Title II off the table. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, said that his legislation will enforce these 11 "bipartisan rules in the Internet Age":
  • Prohibit blocking
  • Prohibit throttling
  • Prohibit paid prioritization
  • Require transparency
  • Apply rules to both wireline and wireless
  • Allow for reasonable network management
  • Allow for specialized services
  • Protect consumer choice
  • Classify broadband Internet access as an information service under the Communications Act
  • Clarify that Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act may not be used as a grant of regulatory authority
  • Direct the FCC to enforce and abide by these principles
Defining broadband as an "information service" would prevent the FCC from reclassifying Internet access. Restricting the FCC's Section 706 powers could also interfere with the commission's plans for preempting state laws that prevent cities and towns from building broadband networks. More via Ars Technica.

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