FCC’s Pursuit to Restore Net Neutrality Reemerges

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In a significant move, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reportedly preparing to reintroduce net neutrality rules that ensure all broadband data is treated equally. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is expected to make an announcement about the agency’s role in net neutrality, and if the proposal is agreed upon by the commissioners, a vote will be held on October 19 to begin the rulemaking process. This comes six years after the repeal of net neutrality rules, which allowed internet service providers (ISPs) to control internet speeds for certain websites. The move to reinstate net neutrality is seen as an effort to make the internet open, fast, and fair, especially considering the importance of reliable internet access during the pandemic.

Net neutrality refers to the principle that ISPs should not block certain content or throttle speeds for specific sites. The FCC first established these rules in 2015 under the Communications Act of 1934, providing protections against discrimination by ISPs. However, former FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, reclassified the internet as Title I in 2017 and eliminated these data protections. The potential reinstatement of net neutrality rules is seen as an attempt to reverse these decisions and prevent ISPs from prioritizing or slowing down traffic to certain sites. While there is no detailed information on the FCC’s restoration plans, it is expected that ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast may oppose the move and lead a legal fight against it.

Before Rosenworcel’s proposed announcement, Congress recently approved new commissioner Anna Gomez, resulting in a Democrat majority on the FCC. This shift in power may increase the likelihood of net neutrality rules being reinstated. However, any new regulations would require a voting process and months of public comments, during which ISPs are expected to challenge the rules with legal action. Therefore, the outcome and future of net neutrality remain uncertain, and it may take some time before a clear direction is established for treating broadband data equally.

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