Net Neutrality….The Current Rules

NET NEUTRALITY….THE CURRENT RULES….Just in case you’re curious, here are the current principles of net neutrality that were adopted by the FCC last August. These principles would be enforced by the Barton-Rush bill if it were passed in its current form:

The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a policy statement that outlines four principles to encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of public Internet:

  1. Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.

  2. Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.

  3. Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.

  4. Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

Although the Commission did not adopt rules in this regard, it will incorporate these principles into its ongoing policymaking activities. All of these principles are subject to reasonable network management.

The Barton-Rush bill instructs the FCC to enforce these principles if a complaint is submitted, but does not allow the FCC to proactively create new regulations based on them.

Note that these principles prohibit internet providers from blocking access to sites, but do not explicitly prohibit degradation of service. It’s an open question how the FCC will interpret “access” if someone ever lodges a complaint alleging that a network provider has deliberately degraded performance in a way that effectively prevents a site or application from working properly.

Note also that these principles do allow internet providers to create special high-speed lanes that they can offer for a price to specific customers. The most likely customers for such a service are video-on-demand providers.

Conversely, Ed Markey’s amendment, which failed 34-22 today, would have specifically prohibited network providers from impairing or degrading performance and would have required them to operate “in a nondiscriminatory manner so that any person can offer or provide content, applications, and services through, or over, such broadband network with equivalent or better capability than the provider extends to itself or affiliated parties, and without the imposition of a charge.” In other words, no special high-speed toll lanes.

This is just FYI.