Net Neutrality Rules Now Published In The Federal Register
The net neutrality rules set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now been officially published in the Federal Register. It is now only a matter of time (60 days, to be exact) before it takes effect on June 12th of this year. Unless, of course, companies that oppose net neutrality take the FCC to court before the new rules take effect.
The new rules were approved by the FCC (via a 3 to 2 vote) back in February earlier this year, and were subsequently released to the public a month later in March (in the form of a 400 page PDF document that details new regulations on broadband services). Under the new regulations, Internet service providers, such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Comcast, just to name a few, are not allowed to block web content, slow down applications or services, or charge extra for special connection privileges. Basically, the new net neutrality rules set guidelines in which all Internet traffic can be treated equally. To make this possible, the FCC made a move to reclassify broadband in a way that puts service providers under the same rigid rules that now apply to telephone service providers.
Suffice it to say that broadband providers are not too enthusiastic with the reclassification. According to them, the FCC could establish rates and impose tariffs that could mean higher fees for consumers, hinder innovation, and even block providers from installing new broadband networks or improving old ones.
By being published in the Federal Register, the new rules also just became subject to lawsuits. Opposing parties certainly did not waste any time in taking legal action. As a matter of fact, USTelecom, a consortium consisting of several Internet service providers, are filing an injunction against the new rules, citing that the published regulations violate federal law.
If a court decides for USTelecom's lawsuit, it could stop the new rules from taking effect, which would likely product a legal quagmire that will just drag on. What is worse is that, apart from USTelecom's, other lawsuits are sure to follow in the coming days and weeks and even years.
Despite the threat of legal action, the FCC remains unfazed. Tom Wheeler, the current chairman of the agency, has stated that the FCC is confident that the net neutrality rules published will be upheld by the courts, ensuring that consumers are protected from unfair business practices by Internet service providers.