On Wednesday, Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), made an announcement that let Net Neutrality advocates rejoice: he proposes the introduction of new rules “to preserve the internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression”. The proposed reclassification of internet services as Title II services under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 would impose stricter rules on those services, banning paid prioritisation, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.
Naturally, the big telecom and cable companies are opposing this move, having up until now benefited from the more relaxed rules applying to Title I information services. The reclassification as a Title II would see the application of the traditional Common Carriage concept to modern day internet service providers. Over the centuries, this concept has been applied to various providers of essential infrastructure, ranging from a 14th century ferry man in England to US-providers of transportation, postal or communications services in the 19th and 20th century. If the FCC decides to follow Wheeler’s lead, the classification of internet service providers as Common Carriers could prove to be more than a pipe dream of a few Net Neutrality advocates (and judging by the millions of reactions the FCC received over prior proposals, they are a lot more than a handful).
In answer to those opposing stricter regulation, Wheeler emphasises the important role the FCC’s previous regulation has played in keeping the internet open and ensuring room for innovation. Sometimes, regulation does not restrict a certain market, but, quite on the contrary, is necessary to ensure its openness.
For Tom Wheeler’s full statement, see: http://www.wired.com/2015/02/fcc-chairman-wheeler-net-neutrality/.