The FCC has voted to revive rules mean to govern how internet service providers (ISPs) like Charter and Comcast treat internet traffic.
The FCC says it will also seek comments on proposals to ensure broadband services have effective oversight in the United States. “If the proposals are adopted after the public comment period and review of that record, the FCC would once again be permitted to protect internet openness and competition, protect broadband networks from security threats, and address public safety needs like internet outages.”
The FCC’s proposal reads similarly to the Open Internet Order established Under Obama and repealed by Ajit Pai in 2017 under Trump. The agency says it will reclassify broadband from an information service to a common carrier under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The proposal also seeks to restore clear, nationwide open internet rules that would prevent ISPs from blocking legal content, throttling speeds, and creating fast lanes that favor those who can pay for access.
The FCC says it has worked on a bipartisan basis in conjunction with national security partners to secure the US’s communication networks—but that authority does not extend to broadband. “Returning broadband to its proper designation as a telecommunications service would empower the FCC to use its Section 214 authority against national security threats to America’s broadband networks.”
“Without Title II authority, no federal agency can effectively monitor or help with broadband outages that threaten jobs, education, health, and safety. While the FCC can address phone service outages following natural disasters and work to ensure the resiliency of those networks before disasters strike, the Commission lacks authority over broadband networks, which can leave communities across the country without recourse when the internet service they need for these critical purposes fails.”
Restoring net neutrality would prevent ISPs from throttling traffic during natural disaster response—such as what happened with Verizon during California wildfires in 2018.