The Federal Communications Commission sent its net neutrality rules on their final steps to becoming a real law on Thursday. The agency sent the rules to the Office of Management and Budget to ensure it complies with arcane paper reduction rules and then the rules are on their way to printing in the Federal Register. Once that happens, anyone can file a lawsuit and get the ball rolling on testing these things in court.
The rules, based on a set of principles adopted in 2005, are an attempt to provide regulations that will keep ISPs from discriminating against traffic on their networks, so a broadband provider couldn’t block content from Yahoo, for instance, or play favorites with certain web sites or services. The FCC had started this process in September 2009.
Now, it could be as soon as 35 days before these rules hit the Federal Register or a bit longer, but for bureaucracy watchers (and those who care how the net neutrality fight plays out) this is a significant move. The FCC also offered up some details on Thursday on how ISPs will need to comply with the transparency requirements in the original order. In general, ISPs will have to offer consumers a web site that will disclose how the ISP manages traffic in cases of network congestion and will also give customers details about the speeds they should expect.
For a refresher on the net neutrality rules, check out our overview post or the original order in its entirety, and for details on how ISPs will have to tell consumers about their broadband speeds and methods of handling congestion, click on through to read the order. And prepare for a flurry of lawsuits in August as companies and public interest groups try to find a court sympathetic to their position.