May 18, 2024

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FCC votes to restore net neutrality rules

FCC votes to restore net neutrality rules

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to restore regulations that expand government oversight of broadband providers and aim to protect consumer access to the Internet, a move that would reignite a long-running battle over an open Internet.

known as Net neutralityThe regulations were first put in place nearly a decade ago under the Obama administration and are intended to prevent internet service providers like Verizon or Comcast from blocking or curtailing the provision of services from competitors like Netflix and YouTube. The rules were repealed under President Donald J. Trump, and have proven to be a controversial partisan issue over the years while pitting tech giants against broadband providers.

In a 3-2 vote along party lines, the five-member commission appointed by President Biden revived rules declaring broadband a utility-like service that is regulated like phones and water. The rules also give the FCC the ability to require broadband providers to report and respond to outages, as well as expand the agency's oversight of providers' security issues.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said the rules reflect the importance of high-speed Internet as the primary means of communication for many Americans.

“Every consumer deserves fast, open and fair Internet access,” Ms. Rosenworcel said. “This is common sense.”

Broadband providers are expected to file a lawsuit to try to overturn the reinstated rules.

“This is not a problem for broadband consumers, who have enjoyed the open Internet for decades,” said Jonathan Spalter, president of broadband lobby group USTelecom. The organization said that it “will pursue all available options, including before the courts.”

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in letter Sent to Ms. Rosenworcel This week, dozens of prominent Republican lawmakers warned that regulating broadband providers like utilities would hurt the growth of the telecommunications industry.

The primary purpose of the regulations is to prevent ISPs from controlling the quality of consumers' experience when they visit websites and use online services. When the rules were put in place, Google, Netflix and other online services warned that broadband providers had an incentive to slow or block access to their services. Consumer and free speech groups supported this view.

There have been a few examples of sites being blocked or slowed down, which net neutrality proponents say is largely due to fear that companies would invite scrutiny if they did so. Opponents say the rules could lead to more unnecessary government oversight of the industry.

“America’s Internet flourished in the absence of command-and-control government regulation in the 1930s,” said Brendan Carr, a Republican commissioner.

A decade ago, potential new regulations sparked vociferous demonstrations. At the time, telecom companies were losing business to online streaming services. Sites like Facebook, Google and Amazon fear that they will have to pay telecom companies to provide their services better.

During the Trump administration, the FCC backed away from net neutrality. Republican lawmakers and FCC commissioners objected that the rules were unnecessary and that the government had overstepped their bounds.

Democrats have argued that these measures are necessary to protect consumers. In the vacuum of federal regulations, several states, including California and Washington, have created their own net neutrality laws.

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