FCC Restores Net Neutrality

Rules had been imposed under Obama and scrapped under Trump
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2024 7:25 PM CDT
FCC Reinstates Net Neutrality Opposed by Broadband Industry
A wireless router   (Getty/AlexLMX)

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday reinstated net neutrality regulations that prohibit internet service providers from interfering with online speeds to favor certain websites. The rules were imposed during the Obama administration, then rescinded during the Trump administration. Democrats have a 3-2 majority on the FCC, and that was the vote, CNN reports. The decision, which classified internet service as a public utility, sets the stage for court battles with the industry. A legal fight could delay the enactment of the rules by months, per the Wall Street Journal.

The courts historically have deferred to federal agencies' expertise—including to the FCC on this issue—but CNN points out that the current Supreme Court has raised doubts about that practice in other cases. Before the vote, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel called net neutrality needed and said it should be made clear that "the nation's expert on communications has the ability to act when it comes to broadband." The Republicans on the losing side Thursday disagreed. "The internet in America has thrived in the absence of 1930s command-and-control regulation by the government," said Commissioner Brendan Carr.

Net neutrality rules usually keep internet service providers from giving certain online traffic priority, including creating "fast lanes" for particular sites or slowing down traffic to other sties that don't pay for the boost. President Biden urged reviving net neutrality in 2021, per Politico, and his administration endorsed this plan last month. Leading Democratic lawmakers supported the restoration, and leading Republicans promised to fight it. A trade association for broadband providers, USTelecom, said Thursday that net neutrality is a "harmful regulatory land grab." (More net neutrality stories.)

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