FCC to Begin Crafting Net Neutrality Rules

Ariana Rodriguez
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission today voted to begin writing network-neutrality regulations.

Despite the dissent of the agency’s two Republican commissioners that said they are opposed to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposal, they voted to being the formal rule-making process.

Genachowski said the regulations are necessary to ensure that broadband subscribers can access legal sites and services that compete with the broadband companies’ core businesses.

"Internet users should always have the final say about their online service, whether it's the software, applications or services they choose, or the networks and hardware they use to the connect to the Internet," Genachowski said.

In addition to the existing four “Internet freedoms” that were approved in 2005, the proposed rules push nondiscrimination and transparency.

  • A provider of broadband Internet access service must treat lawful content, applications and services in a nondiscriminatory manner.
  • A provider of broadband Internet access service must disclose such information concerning network management and other practices as is reasonably required for users and content, application and service providers to enjoy the protections specified in this rulemaking.
In addition, certain exceptions for “reasonable network management” have been introduced:

  • To manage congestion on networks;
  • To address harmful traffic (viruses, spam);
  • To block unlawful content (child porn);
  • To block unlawful transfers of content (copyright infringement); and,
  • For "other reasonable network management practices."
The rules are intended to apply to every Internet connection, wired or wireless.

Following the actual crafting of the regulations will be a vote on whether to adopt them, which is expected to come by next summer.