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FCC Set to Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules Today

 |  April 25, 2024

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to vote today, Thursday, to reinstate net neutrality rules and assume new regulatory oversight of broadband internet, a reversal of actions taken during the Trump administration.

The commission’s proposal to reinstate open internet rules adopted in 2015 and re-establish its authority over broadband internet was initially advanced in October by a narrow 3-2 vote. Now, as reported by Reuters, the FCC is set to give its final approval, marking a significant step towards restoring the principles of net neutrality.

Net neutrality, a concept that advocates for equal access to all online content and applications without discrimination by internet service providers (ISPs), has been a subject of heated debate in recent years. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel emphasized the importance of broadband oversight, stating, “It is time to have broadband oversight, national net neutrality rules and policies that ensure the internet is fast, open, and fair.”

The push to reinstate these rules has been a key agenda item for President Joe Biden, who issued an executive order in July 2021 urging the FCC to restore net neutrality rules established during the Obama administration. However, Democrats faced obstacles in realizing this goal, as they did not gain majority control of the five-member FCC until October.

Read more: US: Congress spars over letting FTC, FCC decide net neutrality

During the Trump era, the FCC contended that net neutrality rules were unnecessary, stifled innovation, and deterred investment in network infrastructure by ISPs. This argument was met with skepticism by Democrats, who disputed claims of decreased investment.

However, not everyone is in favor of the FCC’s proposed actions. A group of Republican lawmakers, including House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Senator Ted Cruz, have criticized the plan as “an illegal power grab.” They argue that it would subject the broadband industry to excessive regulation, potentially allowing the agency and states to impose rate regulations, unbundling obligations, and broadband taxes.

Despite the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules in 2017, the landscape has evolved, with a dozen states implementing their own net neutrality laws or regulations. Industry groups, which previously challenged these state requirements in court, backed down from legal battles in May 2022.

Source: Reuters