FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler really wants everyone to get behind the FCC’s latest Open Internet proposal. So much so, in fact, that he’s threatening to bring out the big guns if the proposed rules are shot down, or if they’re instated and then abused.
Those big guns are regulations; specifically, Title II of the Telecommunications Act.
“If the proposal before us now turns out to be insufficient or if we observe anyone taking advantage of the rule, I won’t hesitate to use Title II,” Wheeler stated in an FCC blog post published today.
Classifying broadband Internet service as a utility under Title II would cause it to be more heavily regulated, much like telephone service is today. There are a host of rules and regulations that telephone service providers must follow, and guidelines in place to both protect consumers and promote competition in the space.
But Wheeler makes it clear in his post that he’d like to avoid that path for Internet service if possible.
More specifically, he’d like to “use the court’s roadmap to implement Open Internet regulation now rather than endure additional years of litigation and delay.” The court he’s referring to is the D.C. Circuit court that, earlier this year, struck down existing net neutrality rules, but laid out a path toward a workable solution that serves as the base of Wheeler’s current plan.
According to some critics, the current FCC proposal leaves room for Internet service providers to discriminate against certain types of traffic. Wheeler doesn’t appear to dispute this, but states in his post that the FCC will be on the lookout for companies that abuse this power or stand in the way of innovation.
Still, the fact that providers would have this power at all isn’t sitting well with some net neutrality supporters. For these people, the only “Open Internet” is one where all traffic is treated equally. The current FCC proposal seems designed to get us moving in that direction as quickly as possible, but does it go far enough? And the bigger question: will Internet service providers feel that it goes too far?
We will definitely be keeping our eyes on this.
[h/t The Verge]