The Internet may never be the same again. According to sources at NBC News, the Federal Communications Commission, (FCC), is attempting to revise the rules on Internet service providers. The federal agency voted 3-2 to release a proposal featuring a new list of “net neutrality” policies later today.
Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman, reported the proposed new regulations regarding “net neutrality” focus on the issue of whether or not all Internet service providers should be required to manage all “online traffic” in an equal fashion.
When the FCC met to vote on this issue Wheeler spoke out saying that the main question was not “whether the Internet should be open, but how and when we should have rules in place.” As this goes to press the complete proposal has not yet been officially released.
The FCC did tell the press that it is weighing two central considerations. Their first concern is reportedly the possibility of recategorizing the Internet. The commission is contemplating classifying it as a “telecommunications service.” If the Internet were thus relabeled it would then fall into the same regulatory slot as utilities such as telephone service and electricity.
This would mean that Internet service providers would then be required to provide patrons “equal access” and they would also come under more scrutiny in terms of FCC regulations. (According to NBC the Federal Communications Commission classified “broadband Internet” as an “information service” as far back as 2002. This greatly reduces the FCC’s power in terms of regulation. At the same time it does not require “equal service’ either.)
The FCC’s second consideration would allow the commission a very limited amount of authority to manage the Internet. Specifically, the FCC would not alter the Internet’s classification as an “information service.” They would instead exercise the power already given to them in the Telecommunication Act. Section 706 specifically requires the commission to facilitate competition in that area.
One thing early commentators already agree upon is that no matter what is decided, the Internet may never be the same again. Change for better or worse is certain.