The Federal Communications Commission plans to move ahead with regulations that would allow Internet service providers to charge websites for faster service, according to an agency official.
Consumer advocacy groups slammed the move, warning that the new rules will fundamentally alter the nature of the Internet and benefit the largest corporations. The rules would allow a provider like Comcast to charge Netflix or other websites special fees to deliver high-quality video in a “fast lane.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters on Wednesday that he plans to share his proposal for new net-neutrality rules with the other FCC commissioners on Thursday. The commission will vote on whether to advance the proposal on May 15.
The FCC originally adopted net-neutrality rules in 2010, but a federal appeals court struck those rules down in January. The old rules barred Internet providers from blocking websites or discriminating against any Internet traffic.
The agency official familiar with Wheeler’s proposal said the updated version will retain the ban on blocking. But instead of the discrimination ban, the new rules will allow Internet providers to offer websites varying speeds as long as the arrangements are “commercially reasonable.”
“We feel confident that we’re in a position that we are able to accomplish what we’ve been trying to accomplish for 10 years,” the official said, referring to the first time the FCC tried to police how Internet service providers offer access to websites.
But Free Press President Craig Aaron accused the FCC of “aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet.”
“This is not net neutrality. It’s an insult to those who care about preserving the open Internet to pretend otherwise,” Aaron said.
Michael Weinberg, a vice president at Public Knowledge, warned that the “commercially reasonable” standard would allow ISPs to “pick winners and losers online.”
The consumer advocacy groups fear that small websites will be unable to pay the special fees, distorting the Internet in favor of the largest sites.
Wheeler issued a statement late Wednesday to try to ease the growing outrage over the proposal. He said that any reports that the FCC is “gutting” the net neutrality rules are “flat out wrong.”
“Tomorrow we will circulate to the Commission a new Open Internet proposal that will restore the concepts of net neutrality consistent with the court’s ruling in January,” he said.
“There is no ‘turnaround in policy.’ The same rules will apply to all Internet content. As with the original Open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.”
The public will have a chance to comment on the new proposal before it is finalized.
— This post was updated with a statement from Wheeler at 11:17 p.m.
What We're Following See More »
"The Trump administration on Wednesday formally withdrew Obama administration rules granting transgender individuals access to the sex-segregated facilities of their choice, including bathrooms." In an official letter to the civil-rights divisions of the Justice and Education departments, the administration wrote that it prefers to let states set the course on the issue, and also that the Obama-era rules don't “contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”
Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.
"The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to ensure that records related to Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections are preserved as it begins investigating that country’s ties to the Trump team. The panel sent more than a dozen letters to 'organizations, agencies and officials' on Friday, asking them to preserve materials related to the congressional investigation, according to a Senate aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading the most comprehensive probe on Capitol Hill of Russia’s alleged activities in the elections."