The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will soon vote on a new set of net neutrality rules. The vote is likely to come at the FCC’s monthly meeting in February, which is scheduled to occur on February 26.
The Washington Post’s Brian Fung reports:
President Obama’s top telecom regulator, Tom Wheeler, told fellow FCC commissioners before the Christmas holiday that he intends to circulate a draft proposal internally next month with an eye toward approving the measure weeks later, said one official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agency’s deliberations are ongoing. The rules are meant to keep broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast from speeding up or slowing down some Web sites compared to others.
Fung previously reported that “momentum seems to have been building at the Federal Communications Commission for aggressive net neutrality rules similar to the kind endorsed by President Obama in November. The stronger rules laid out in Obama’s plan would see the FCC treat lightly regulated broadband companies like their more heavily regulated cousins in the telephone industry.”
President Obama called on the FCC to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking legal websites, throttling Internet connections, and creating a “fast lane” for companies that pay to receive it. Net neutrality proponents argue that ISPs are using their networks as a means of extortion.
The president said that the FCC should use its regulatory power to reclassify the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which would make it subject to regulation similar to water and electricity. It would prevent corporate Internet Service Providers like Comcast and AT&T from using their monopoly control to dominate the free and open Internet.
Whatever the FCC ultimately decides to do will likely face opposition from the new Republican-controlled Congress.
The Wall Street Journal reports that “many conservatives and the broadband industry say utility-like regulation is a step too far, arguing it will stifle innovation in the industry.”
Even if the House and Senate passed a bill to undo the FCC’s net neutrality rules, President Obama could still use his veto power to uphold the commission’s regulations. A two-thirds vote would be needed to override the president’s veto.