The FCC Is Getting Serious About Enforcing Its Last Remaining Net-Neutrality Rule

The agency threatens to crack down on Internet providers that lie about speed.

Traffic makes it's way South along the M1 motorway in freezing fog on February 6, 2012 in London, United Kingdom. Large parts of the United Kingdom continue to experience heavy snowfall and icy conditions with cold weather expected to last into next week.
National Journal
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Laura Ryan
July 23, 2014, 10:44 a.m.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion warned In­ter­net pro­viders on Wed­nes­day that they will face pen­al­ties if they mis­lead their cus­tom­ers about the con­nec­tion speeds they’re of­fer­ing.

This rule, called the “Open In­ter­net Trans­par­ency Rule,” is the only sur­viv­ing piece of the net-neut­ral­ity rules struck down by a fed­er­al court in Feb­ru­ary. The rule re­quires broad­band pro­viders to ac­cur­ately dis­close how they handle traffic, In­ter­net speeds, and prices to con­sumers.

“Con­sumers de­serve to get the broad­band ser­vice they pay for,” FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. “After today, no broad­band pro­vider can claim they didn’t know we were watch­ing to see that they dis­close ac­cur­ate in­form­a­tion about the ser­vices they provide.”

If an In­ter­net pro­vider is caught ly­ing or not dis­clos­ing enough in­form­a­tion, they could face a pen­alty, such as a fine.

The FCC is not cur­rently in­vest­ig­at­ing any pro­vider for provid­ing in­ac­cur­ate in­form­a­tion, but the agency has re­ceived a num­ber of con­sumer com­plaints, ac­cord­ing to an FCC spokes­man.

The agency is in the pro­cess of re­work­ing the rest of its net-neut­ral­ity rules. After pro­pos­ing the pos­sib­il­ity of al­low­ing “paid-pri­or­it­iz­a­tion,” Wheel­er has faced in­tense pub­lic pres­sure to re­clas­si­fy broad­band as a pub­lic util­ity.

The FCC re­ceived over 1 mil­lion net-neut­ral­ity com­ments by the pro­ceed­ing’s dead­line for pub­lic com­ment on Ju­ly 18.


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