The FCC said today it would begin the process of reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service subject to greater regulatory oversight from the agency. The reclassification was in response to a court ruling that challenged the FCC’s ability to enforce network neutrality under the current broadband regulatory regime.
The plan is aimed at giving the agency the ability codify its net neutrality rules, which are designed to prevent Internet Service Providers from discriminating against the packets traversing their networks. Given that network neutrality is fairly controversial, and that the idea of changing a regulatory structure that was endorsed by previous Commissions on four separate occasions is also pretty controversial, folks have a lot of opinions on the issue.
From The Open Internet Coalition, which includes Amazon, Dish Networks, Google and Netflix:
This framework will ensure that consumers have access to an open Internet, one that would preserve a level playing field for all participants. And it does so without regulating the Internet but only applying basic rules of the road to the transmission services that provide access to the Internet.
“We believe that the chairman’s stated approach is legally unsupported. The regulatory and judicial proceedings that will ensue can only bring confusion and delay to the important work of continuing to build the nation’s broadband future.”
From Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps:
The devil will be in the details as we work to put the Commission back on solid legal footing. For example, it is clear that broadband will merit some forbearance from certain Title II stipulations, but we must avoid another forbearance binge. We experienced a mad rush to forbearance in previous Commissions and it usually created many more problems than it resolved. We must also understand that the world of technology changes at warp speed and we must protect against any unintended consequences of forbearance or closing other doors that may need to be opened down the road.
Putting the Internet in a regulatory straightjacket of Title II and then not enforcing much of it is not the path to a “Third Way.” Only Congress can create a new chapter in the library of communications law. The best the FCC can do to facilitate the exercise is propose a framework. That is the only way new law can be created for a system as novel and innovative as the Internet.
From Ars Technica:
Genachowski’s compromise document—a soon-to-be-issued-if-the-votes-are-there request for public input—will no doubt make for less compelling reading, but it has a similar goal: bring everyone involved into a big tent. The chairman outlined his vision for a “third way” today in a lengthy statement, one not notable for rhetorical subtlety. Genachowski is at pains to argue that there is a “consensus understanding” of how the FCC should regulate broadband. This consensus is bipartisan, carefully balanced, and “light touch” in nature. It is, in essence, not controversial.
From Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester, Ohio):
“Today’s FCC announcement amounts to a government takeover of the Internet, and yet another government takeover of a large portion of the private sector by the Obama administration. Under this job-killing big government scheme, the Obama administration is seeking to expand the power of the federal government.”