FCC Votes to Move Forward With What It Calls an ‘Open Internet’ Plan

May 15, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Updated at 8:50 a.m. PT on 5-16-2014 to change headline to be more reflective of what the FCC did.

On a 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission agreed today to "move forward with a set of proposed rules aimed at guaranteeing an open Internet, prohibiting high-speed Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against legal content flowing through their pipes," The New York Times reports.

"While the plan is meant to prevent data from being knowingly slowed by Internet providers, it would allow content providers to pay for a guaranteed fast lane of service. Some opponents of the plan argue that allowing some content to be sent along a fast lane would essentially discriminate against content not sent along that lane," the report adds.

The vote was along party lines, with the commission's three Democrats, including Chairman Tom Wheeler, voting in favor of opening the plan to public comment. The panel's two Republicans voted against the plan. The proposal will be open for comment for the next four months.

"The two Republicans who voted against the plan said it exceeded the agency’s legal authority, that there had been no evidence of actual harm or deviation from net neutrality principles, and that elected members of Congress should decide the issue, not regulatory appointees," the story reports.

The article adds: "FCC staff members explained that the proposal would aim to enhance the transparency rule that requires Internet service providers to tell consumers how they manage their traffic, a regulation that was upheld by the court, and would set a 'commercially reasonable' standard to judge conduct that is not covered by a blanket no-blocking rule."

The proposal approved today also aims to put in place an ombudsman to follow up on complaints from the public.

Just before the vote, Wheeler said: “We are dedicated to protecting and preserving an open Internet. What we’re dealing with today is a proposal, not a final rule. We are asking for specific comment on different approaches to accomplish the same goal — an open Internet.”

tom wheeler.pngTom Wheeler

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