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The FCC Votes to Reestablish Net Neutrality Rules: What You Need to Know

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Net Neutrality Poised for Resurgence as FCC Begins Process of Reestablishing Open Internet Rules

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Introduction

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent vote to initiate the reinstatement of net neutrality has sparked a renewed debate on the issue. Net neutrality, the concept that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all web traffic equally without blocking or throttling, was reversed by the FCC in 2017. However, with the current vote, the agency aims to revive the open internet rules that were established just a few years ago.

The vote comes amidst Congress’s failure to pass legislation that would codify the principles of net neutrality into law. The back and forth on this matter has left the issue unresolved until now.

FCC’s Decision and Voting

Democratic commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel, Anna Gomez, and Geoffrey Starks voted in favor of the move, while the two Republican commissioners, Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington, dissented.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel expressed her intention to reinstate the rules soon after the appointment of Democrat Anna Gomez as the fifth commissioner, establishing a Democratic majority within the agency for the first time under the Biden administration. Previously, Gigi Sohn, the president’s nominee, faced opposition during the confirmation process and ultimately withdrew, leaving the agency in a stalemate.

With the commission’s approval of the notice of proposed rulemaking, the public will now have an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposal. The agency will consider this feedback in crafting a final rule.

Opposing Views and Concerns

Opponents of net neutrality argue that the repeal of the rules during the Trump administration disproves exaggerated claims that it would lead to the demise of the internet as we know it. Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr referred to the earlier campaign for net neutrality as a “viral disinformation campaign.”

Republicans and ISPs generally object to the FCC’s plans to reclassify providers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which would subject them to regulation as a public utility. Concerns arise from the potential for the commission to impose price controls on ISPs in the future.

Republican Commissioner Nathan Simington stated, “We’re now faced with advocates who can’t accept that they won and that we have de facto net neutrality.”

Proponents and Current Landscape

Proponents argue that the mere threat of net neutrality rules returning, along with the implementation of similar rules in California, has deterred ISPs from engaging in discriminatory practices against internet traffic.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel commented, “In effect, we currently have open internet policies that providers are abiding by. They are just coming from Sacramento and other similar places. However, when it comes to such a critical infrastructure in the digital age, it’s time for a national policy.”

Conclusion

The FCC’s vote to reinstate net neutrality rules marks a significant development in the ongoing debate. As the public provides feedback on the proposal, the final rule will be shaped by the agency. The outcome will determine the future of net neutrality and its impact on internet service providers and consumers alike.

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