Welcome back, net neutrality. This week, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal to restore FCC policies for the internet and oversight of internet service providers.
Generally, net neutrality is a response to internet service providers treating internet users and traffic differently. The FCC has been here before. Most recently, the agency adopted open internet rules in 2015, but, in 2019, during the Trump Administration, the Commission overturned them.
Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s proposal would return broadband under Title II of the Communications Act, making it an “essential” service. It would ensure “that broadband service is on par with water, power, and phone service.” She notes in her announcement that the pandemic emphasized how integral the internet is to consumers’ daily lives for healthcare, work, school, etc.
Among other things, the net neutrality proposal would set rules for internet service providers, such as prohibiting them from blocking legal content, slowing down internet speeds, and giving better access to their favored users. It also offers to set one uniform, national standard. Notably, California passed its own open internet laws for its residents in 2018, in light of the FCC’s actions to overturn the federal 2015 rule.
Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s notice of proposed rulemaking could be adopted by the full Commission as soon as sometime next month, after which a proposed rule would be open for public comment.