Following an announcement by the Federal Communications Commission that it will issue new rules in the coming months to protect an open internet, communications advocates are crying foul, saying the FCC’s promises are largely toothless and the agency has the power to do far more.
The FCC announcement follows a ruling in a federal court last month in favor of broadband companies who said Net Neutrality rules enforced by the FCC are illegal. The ruling was slammed by internet advocates who said it “gives commercial companies the astounding legal authority to block internet traffic, give preferential treatment to certain internet services or applications, and steer users to or away from certain web sites based on their own commercial interests.”
In response, one month later, the FCC has said that it will not appeal the ruling, but will in exchange use powers under the Telecommunications Act to propose new rules that would theoretically continue to protect internet users and providers from being overcharged and abused by broadband companies.
The promises, however, are toothless, according to Candace Clement at the internet advocacy and press freedom group Free Press.
“Give the statement a speed-read and you might think the agency is moving in the right direction. There are some great buzzwords in there,” she writes. “But all this announcement does is kick the can down the road — the wrong road.”
The problems, Clement writes, are many, but can be boiled down to the fact that the FCC continues to refuse to classify broadband internet companies as a public utilities, or “telecommunications services.”
This reclassification, which the FCC has the power to do, would place broadband companies, and the ways in which they charge their customers, under the FCC’s jurisdiction.
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