The FCC has Approved a Net Neutrality Rule, Providing Open Internet
The FCC has passed the net neutrality law, meaning cable companies and others who offer internet access will not be able to restrict that access to smaller companies and individuals while giving a fast lane to big companies that are willing to pay more. Internet providers are also not allowed to throttle the speed of the internet or block access to specific websites. When cable companies or other internet providers go against those rules, the FCC is allowed to intervene to protect the public’s interest.
Overall, the basic focus of the new net neutrality rules is to regulate the internet like a public utility. That will protect the access to the internet that is enjoyed by millions of Americans, but won’t allow the FCC to step in when it comes to the price of internet services. With the creation of the rules, the battle may be over but the war has not been won. Many cable companies have already said that they will sue the FCC, so whether the rules on net neutrality hold up will remain to be seen. It will be a battle for lawyers and courtrooms.
Because the ruling on net neutrality came at the end of a hard-fought battle, it’s important to take a look at how far the country has come where net neutrality is concerned. The term was coined in 2003, so the discussion about an open internet has been going on since at least that time. Free and open communication, however, has roots that go back much further than issues with the internet. In 1934, the Communications Act focused on having a common carrier for a utility, such as a telephone service.
The net neutrality decision is, at its core, the same thing. By changing the classification of internet to that of a common carrier, the internet is reclassified as a utility and the ways in which it can and must be dealt with are different. Since it now has to be seen as a public utility instead of something belonging to private carriers (i.e. ISPs), the ways in which it can be restricted or regulated are fundamentally changed.