FCC Votes, Approves Net Neutrality Rules For Broadband

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FCC Votes, Approves Net Neutrality Rules For Broadband

Tom Wheeler

Broadband Internet access will now be regulated under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

The FCC has today voted on, and passed net neutrality rules proposed by chairman Tom Wheeler. The vote, 3-2 in favor, was split down party lines. Commissioners Wheeler, Rosenworcel, and Clyburn voted in fsvor of the ruleset, while commissioners Pai and O'Rielly dissented.

After roughly a year of court battles, public discourse, and statements from all sides of the tech industry, the vote is the first major pro-net neutrality step taken by the U.S. government. While the public has still not seen the full 332-page FCC proposal, the core concepts are the banning of both paid prioritization, and throttling/blocking of "lawful" content.

The key change is the regulation of broadband Internet access going forward. Up until this point, broadband was classified as an "information service." But that changed today, as the FCC now classifies such networks as a "telecommunications service," which means tighter regulations can be imposed. This reclassification also includes mobile broadband (your cellular data plan), and the ruleset also includes points on consumer privacy/protection, and Internet access provisions for rural areas, and disabled persons.

What does this mean for most of us? Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) cannot block access to a website or service like Amazon or Netflix, nor can they charge Amazon or Netflix for fast access on their network.

"The internet is too important for broadband providers to be making the rules," said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler during today's vote. "It's too important to be left without rules and a referee on the field."

The rules should be met with praise by President Obama, who came out strongly in support of net neutrality last year.

Before the net neutrality vote, the FCC also voted on a measure specific to "municipal broadband," or Internet access provided by a local entity (your town/city government, or a local power utility company, for example). This vote, also 3-2 in favor, effectively allows such providers -- specifically in Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee -- to ignore state laws that prohibit the expansion of such networks. Both cities already have municipal broadband networks, but expansion of the networks was being blocked by state legislators.

"There are a few irrefutable truths about broadband," said chairman Wheeler minutes before the vote. "One is you can't say you're for broadband, and then turn around and endorse limits."

While the vote only affects Wilson and Chattanooga, other cities and towns will undoubtedly use the ruling as precedent if and when they run into the same roadblock.

So how do you feel about today's ruling? Victory? Defeat? A big ol' ball of indifference? Let us know in the comments.

Permalink

Just letting ya know, but you would probably want to spell check this. You misspelled favor up at the top. Not being overly critical, just want to help out

"It's too important to be left without rules and a referee on the field."

Which is why there already are rules (the law) and there already is a referee (the cops). And besides, whose going to provide those new rules and the new referees? The government? Don't make me laugh. If you can't even treat your vets with an inkling of respect, how can we expect you to treat the internet with respect?

Aerith:
"It's too important to be left without rules and a referee on the field."

Which is why there already are rules (the law) and there already is a referee (the cops). And besides, whose going to provide those new rules and the new referees? The government? Don't make me laugh. If you can't even treat your vets with an inkling of respect, how can we expect you to treat the internet with respect?

Not to dismiss your point about the treatment of veterans (a very important point, I agree), but what does this have to do with broadband regulation?

-Devin Connors

kenu12345:
Just letting ya know, but you would probably want to spell check this. You misspelled favor up at the top. Not being overly critical, just want to help out

Fixed, I think! Thank you!

So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

It's a partisan vote. Look at the bios of the dissenters, and you'll understand why they voted no.

-Devin

I would feel a lot better if I had gotten to read the 332 page proposal; I just can't trust that there isn't some rider in there that gives exceptions to companies like comcast.

Also glad to see municipal broadband getting what will effectively be a greenlight. Smaller towns can benefit a lot more from local infrastructure providing internet as opposed to bigger companies, especially if fast lanes and throttling are banned. (Although it does open internet traffic to considerably easier government snooping, so there is a downside.)

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

We don't really know. We're not allowed to see what was actually being voted on, because they'd rather hide it than show it. Which means it's too early to celebrate, given that there's no public info on what was being voted on.

This just means that corporations that happen to be in favor of what's also best for the people have more money and influence over politicians (for now) than anti-net neutrality companies. Feel free to celebrate, but don't forget that the war isn't won, it's just one battle. As long as money in politics is a thing it will never be over. That's what you need to focus on in America. Getting the money out of politics once and for all with a constitutional amendment. These are the guys that are trying to do that: http://www.wolf-pac.com/ If you're an American and if you want your democracy back, consider helping them in anyway you can. Don't be naive. This is not the last you'll hear from ISPs and net neutrality.

Xeorm:

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

We don't really know. We're not allowed to see what was actually being voted on, because they'd rather hide it than show it. Which means it's too early to celebrate, given that there's no public info on what was being voted on.

That was my sentiment exactly. It's a joke that everyone is screaming for vote on this when no one but a handful of people have seen it. We saw the same thing with the ACA. Not enough copies to hand around to everyone so the bulk voted in complete ignorance. Same thing here. They make people concentrate on probably amounts to a few pages of a large document. And now we are supposed to feel this is a victory when we don't honestly know what this actually is.

It's a step in the right direction. The blocking of municipal expansion was ridiculous - particularly from people who routinely shout "free enterprise" and "less government" as their main raison d'ĂȘtre. I would like to hear more about the details but getting ISPs classified as utilities just makes sense. Like phones and electricity, we can no longer do business (or, some would argue, live) without the internet. Giving ISPs the ability to block competition, make money on both ends, and act as arbiter of information is not to be borne.

Devin Connors:

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

It's a partisan vote. Look at the bios of the dissenters, and you'll understand why they voted no.

-Devin

That's still not a good reason. In fact, it's arguably worse since it's against the idea of "for the people". When you vote against something just because the other group suggested it, you aren't voting with the best interests of the people in mind. Partisan voting is essentially just throwing a temper tantrum because people aren't doing things your (group's) way.

OT: Yay, a step in the right direction! Now to wait for the 332-page proposal to be made public (hopefully Wheeler didn't sneak any loopholes in for his old corporate masters) and to see if the companies take the FCC to court over this (it's happened before).

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

Because majority of internet traffic comes from less than 5 sources: Netflix, Google, Amazon, and Apple. Which means people who only use the internet for like email and facebook are going to be paying higher prices for internet because people are clogging the internet for 4K Netflix streaming.

kael013:
That's still not a good reason. In fact, it's arguably worse since it's against the idea of "for the people". When you vote against something just because the other group suggested it, you aren't voting with the best interests of the people in mind. Partisan voting is essentially just throwing a temper tantrum because people aren't doing things your (group's) way.

That's been the MO of the Republican bloc in Congress since day 1 of Obama's presidency. One Congressman is even quoted as saying "If Obama is for it, then we must be against it." They oppose a bill that Obama proposes, and then quietly re-propose the same bill and pass it simply so Obama can't get any credit for it. It's how politics have worked here for most of America's history. Spite is a powerful force in our government.

OT: Yay, a step in the right direction! Now to wait for the 332-page proposal to be made public (hopefully Wheeler didn't sneak any loopholes in for his old corporate masters) and to see if the companies take the FCC to court over this (it's happened before).

Oh, it's definitely going to court. ISP's have too much to lose for them to let this proposal go unchallenged. As for sneaking in provisions...I doubt Wheeler would be that stupid; him and the rest of the FCC commission would be out of a job before Obama's presidency is over if they tried something like that.

If netflix raised thier prices last year because they 2ere beingbcharged a premium, does that mean they will lower it back down?

Doubtful

Oh my god, throttling is illegal now? Holy shit, lets see if they actually enforce that

This is good news. Hopefully the court battles will be as short (and at minimum expense). Net neutrality will benefit all Americans, except for those who own large interests in the telecom industry. The municipal broadband is great too. Finally some competition in the marketplace.

The net neutrality ought to be embraced by government critics too, since it would prevent government operated broadband from doing the same sheisty methods of curtailing speed and traffic.

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

Here's one reason... "While the public has still not seen the full 332-page FCC proposal..." I'm all for NN, make no mistake, but I'm not a fan of passing laws when I don't know 100% what they are. Call it the crazy idea of wanting to be as informed as possible about potentially life altering decisions, and I tend to read contracts before I sign them too. I know, odd right? It never sits right with me when the actual document isn't released prior to the vote. Makes me wonder what is hidden in there they didn't want people to see. We all know summaries can be misleading and outright false *cough obamacare cough* with no repercussions.

Baresark:
That was my sentiment exactly. It's a joke that everyone is screaming for vote on this when no one but a handful of people have seen it. We saw the same thing with the ACA.

Sarge034:
We all know summaries can be misleading and outright false *cough obamacare cough* with no repercussions.

The ACA also gives us a good snapshot of the opposite side, though. When the full text was released, there was a rather disgusting effort to try and take one small part of it way out of context, interpret it in a disgusting way and then scream about DEATH PANELS!!!!! and other outrageous nonsense.

It got to the point where a real conversation about healthcare could never take place one way or another. I didn't necessarily support the ACA when it was up for a vote, I supported the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett bill that would have ended employer-healthcare monopolies. At the same time, the ACA, for all of its faults is a whole lot better in my perspective than nothing. I feel the much the same way about the rules, whatever is in it is probably better than what we have now, and I'd rather have it passed so we can get to the lawsuits sooner than later.

In a perfect world, I'd love to see these bills or rules or whatever before they pass, but it seems like all that does in today's political environment is give the opposition time to egregiously lie about it unquestioned, then suddenly you have a mass of people in DC protesting "Obamacare for the Internet". All because you wanted to "wait and read every word" of rules that the vast majority of people would not understand and even less people have any sway over.

Sarge034:

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

Here's one reason... "While the public has still not seen the full 332-page FCC proposal..." I'm all for NN, make no mistake, but I'm not a fan of passing laws when I don't know 100% what they are. Call it the crazy idea of wanting to be as informed as possible about potentially life altering decisions, and I tend to read contracts before I sign them too. I know, odd right? It never sits right with me when the actual document isn't released prior to the vote. Makes me wonder what is hidden in there they didn't want people to see. We all know summaries can be misleading and outright false *cough obamacare cough* with no repercussions.

Techdirt specifically writes that while this is an issue, it's not something specific that only happened to the vote on net neutrality/reclassification. It's something they've been doing for a long time. And we might not see the full rules until a few weeks because the Republicans refuse to submit their edits and until they do, it's not finalized.

Wow more regulations and more rules because that is always what works lol.... slowly but surely we will give away all of our freedoms in the name of "neutrality", "fairness" or "equality and the cycle continues.

I mean they could have some crazy loophole in there, but regardless of what's in the rest of the pages the key point here is broadband being reclassified as Title II. That puts it under the umbrella of an already well defined Telecommunications Act that's been around for decades. In fact this hole mess started when they chose not to classify broadband as such 10-15 years ago... think it was under Bush but it could have been Clinton.

kael013:
That's still not a good reason. In fact, it's arguably worse since it's against the idea of "for the people". When you vote against something just because the other group suggested it, you aren't voting with the best interests of the people in mind. Partisan voting is essentially just throwing a temper tantrum because people aren't doing things your (group's) way.

Welcome to American (and likely much of the democratic world's) politics. Just like Slumlord said, it is spite. The office of president and senatorial seats from evenly split districts are less likely to be like this, since they try to hit a middle ground to get the most votes. But any House Rep or Senator from a historically extreme left or right district, and appointed positions, like the the FCC here, are pretty much split and have decided who is their lifelong opponents. And American citizens' lives are their battlefield.

OT: Ah, this is good. Now let's see how the lawsuits from the whiny companies and the upcoming bills in Congress go. As said before, this battle is over, but the war continues.

I also do not like how the 332 page playbook Wheeler wrote up is being kept a secret. At least they didn't postpone the meeting and let Congress come up with another lovely law that states ISP are allowed to drain a pint of each of your family members' blood every month for high speed internet access (and they can demand you use their modems and charge rental fees). For, now the FCC's plan is the lesser of two evils.

In the days before wires were carrying data, I can understand democracies would need the representatives to try and decide what is best for their constituents, without any more intput from them other than the votes and letters that would take days or even months to reach and be read by the reps' offices. But, today the internet, that thing they said was sort of important in the quote, can let our voices be heard, powerfully and quickly. I know many politicians are scared of that. Why do you think China and many others censor and monitor the series of tubes? Power is going towards the people, and part of this war, SOPA, and many things to come will be influenced by this struggle.

flying_whimsy:
I would feel a lot better if I had gotten to read the 332 page proposal; I just can't trust that there isn't some rider in there that gives exceptions to companies like comcast.

Also glad to see municipal broadband getting what will effectively be a greenlight. Smaller towns can benefit a lot more from local infrastructure providing internet as opposed to bigger companies, especially if fast lanes and throttling are banned. (Although it does open internet traffic to considerably easier government snooping, so there is a downside.)

Yeah, areas where I live it's a fucking mess. I happen to live in a location where my internet is stellar, yet 30 minutes down the road and I have friends that have internet that rival the stone ages of the dial up days.

Hairless Mammoth:

kael013:
That's still not a good reason. In fact, it's arguably worse since it's against the idea of "for the people". When you vote against something just because the other group suggested it, you aren't voting with the best interests of the people in mind. Partisan voting is essentially just throwing a temper tantrum because people aren't doing things your (group's) way.

Welcome to American (and likely much of the democratic world's) politics. Just like Slumlord said, it is spite. The office of president and senatorial seats from evenly split districts are less likely to be like this, since they try to hit a middle ground to get the most votes. But any House Rep or Senator from a historically extreme left or right district, and appointed positions, like the the FCC here, are pretty much split and have decided who is their lifelong opponents. And American citizens' lives are their battlefield.

I'd say America takes this to the nth degree with their two party system, where only one or the other can be in power. I believe most Western democracies have a few more options, and in the case where a 'minority government' gets voted in the ruling party actually needs to work with another party to pass laws. Up here in Canada we have a system where if the ruling party puts a bill to vote and it fails to pass then their rule is prematurely ended and a new election is called. That seems like it could be a horrible idea but no party wants to be the one responsible for forcing another election. So if it's not popular either don't propose it or compromise to get enough of the opposition on board to pass. But of course when you have a majority government which is the case now they can pass whatever the **** they want.

Well this is great for the short term, but I don't trust the government to regulate the internet any better. I am curious how much they shoe horned into this to win the majority vote.

hentropy:

Baresark:
That was my sentiment exactly. It's a joke that everyone is screaming for vote on this when no one but a handful of people have seen it. We saw the same thing with the ACA.

Sarge034:
We all know summaries can be misleading and outright false *cough obamacare cough* with no repercussions.

The ACA also gives us a good snapshot of the opposite side, though. When the full text was released, there was a rather disgusting effort to try and take one small part of it way out of context, interpret it in a disgusting way and then scream about DEATH PANELS!!!!! and other outrageous nonsense.

It got to the point where a real conversation about healthcare could never take place one way or another. I didn't necessarily support the ACA when it was up for a vote, I supported the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett bill that would have ended employer-healthcare monopolies. At the same time, the ACA, for all of its faults is a whole lot better in my perspective than nothing. I feel the much the same way about the rules, whatever is in it is probably better than what we have now, and I'd rather have it passed so we can get to the lawsuits sooner than later.

In a perfect world, I'd love to see these bills or rules or whatever before they pass, but it seems like all that does in today's political environment is give the opposition time to egregiously lie about it unquestioned, then suddenly you have a mass of people in DC protesting "Obamacare for the Internet". All because you wanted to "wait and read every word" of rules that the vast majority of people would not understand and even less people have any sway over.

I was just using that as an example of things that should be released. The truth it, while the ACA is helpful to some people, it has a great many things that are negative about it. But I'm not here to debate that, it would be like crying over spilled milk. My point was simply that while no one was actually considering "death panels", there are things in it that negatively effect people that would have been a concern if they were aware of them.

The main thing was that congress was voting on it when literally only a handful of people had enough time to read about what it was but a vote was forced.

I would never consider voting on this without people being aware of what is within a document. But that is politics to a tee. Don't tell people about all the facets of something and then force a vote. Of course, we could easily eventually see this and only see that the Republicrats involved were just being dicks, that is totally a possibility. We all know Wheeler was originally just being a dick.

I am absolutely 100% in favor of Net Neutrality but I hate the idea of this thing being passed simply because it follows the exact same formula the ACA did. A massive piece of legislation (and this is legislation, don't be fooled by claims otherwise) that's drawn up in a short amount of time with no input from anyone except the organization drafting it itself (in this case the Democrats) that no one is even given the opportunity to read.

These are the kinds of things the old facist governments of Europe did when they were taking power.

RandV80:
I'd say America takes this to the nth degree with their two party system, where only one or the other can be in power. I believe most Western democracies have a few more options, and in the case where a 'minority government' gets voted in the ruling party actually needs to work with another party to pass laws. Up here in Canada we have a system where if the ruling party puts a bill to vote and it fails to pass then their rule is prematurely ended and a new election is called. That seems like it could be a horrible idea but no party wants to be the one responsible for forcing another election. So if it's not popular either don't propose it or compromise to get enough of the opposition on board to pass. But of course when you have a majority government which is the case now they can pass whatever the **** they want.

That's quite a nifty legislative system. But yeah, if that existed down here, the majority party would try the dirtiest tricks to make sure their bills went through without risk, or the majority members would just vote for anything their party proposes. It might keep most laws more neutral, but they would find a way to sugar coat the bad ones to win reelections. (And if a forced reelection did happen, far more money that necessary would be wasted setting up the ballots. It's an unwritten requirement for federal spending.)

Indeed, we are the worst. We probably won't ever see a third major party last for long until the first party and it absorb the second major one it branched off from, much less get them to actually do their jobs right (ei: work together on more things than just increasing their personal bank accounts). Every time I hear how another western nation is ran, this one feels even more backwards.

Perhaps someone could correct me here, but wasn't this same man, Wheeler, originally opposed to this outcome. I seem to recall his original proposal was the exact opposite of this outcome, namely that paid-for prioritisation should be permitted. This is a complete about-face from his first proposal. Maybe he wanted to make his heel-face turn much more dramatic by making such a change.

Anyway, about bloody time is all I can say. It'll be nice to see this debate put to rest and without the danger of ISPs manipulating the internet for profit.

Aerith:
"It's too important to be left without rules and a referee on the field."

Which is why there already are rules (the law) and there already is a referee (the cops). And besides, whose going to provide those new rules and the new referees? The government? Don't make me laugh. If you can't even treat your vets with an inkling of respect, how can we expect you to treat the internet with respect?

So if my internet gets throttled because I'm using a major website like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon or Netflix, my one recourse for action should be to dial 911 and call for the arrest of Lowell C. McAdam, or Randall L. Stephenson? How exactly do you think they would take that?

KingsGambit:
Perhaps someone could correct me here, but wasn't this same man, Wheeler, originally opposed to this outcome. I seem to recall his original proposal was the exact opposite of this outcome, namely that paid-for prioritisation should be permitted. This is a complete about-face from his first proposal. Maybe he wanted to make his heel-face turn much more dramatic by making such a change.

Yes he was a originally opposed to this, but something to remember is that his position is a political one, and when a large mob of voters and a staggering ammount of companies are taking one side of an issue, and next to no one appart from a very select few companies taking the other, well I'll be frank, it's amazing that any politicians are still opposing net neutrality.

Coreless:
Wow more regulations and more rules because that is always what works lol.... slowly but surely we will give away all of our freedoms in the name of "neutrality", "fairness" or "equality and the cycle continues.

I agree somewhat. It would be better to take a sledgehammer to the monopolies and the government laws that allow them to exist as such.

But since the lawyers would NEVER allow something that beneficial to America to take place as far as I can tell this is the next best way of guaranteeing a healthy Net.

Sarge034:

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

Here's one reason... "While the public has still not seen the full 332-page FCC proposal..." I'm all for NN, make no mistake, but I'm not a fan of passing laws when I don't know 100% what they are. Call it the crazy idea of wanting to be as informed as possible about potentially life altering decisions, and I tend to read contracts before I sign them too. I know, odd right? It never sits right with me when the actual document isn't released prior to the vote. Makes me wonder what is hidden in there they didn't want people to see. We all know summaries can be misleading and outright false *cough obamacare cough* with no repercussions.

I did not even realise that the FCC's proposals were not made public. Now I am genuinely nervous, what serpent have they traded the wolf for?

Saulkar:

Sarge034:

SKBPinkie:
So the people who voted against NN are definitely full of shit, aren't they? I genuinely can't think of a single good reason why they'd be opposed to it, unless they were bought, or they're just fucking idiotic.

Here's one reason... "While the public has still not seen the full 332-page FCC proposal..." I'm all for NN, make no mistake, but I'm not a fan of passing laws when I don't know 100% what they are. Call it the crazy idea of wanting to be as informed as possible about potentially life altering decisions, and I tend to read contracts before I sign them too. I know, odd right? It never sits right with me when the actual document isn't released prior to the vote. Makes me wonder what is hidden in there they didn't want people to see. We all know summaries can be misleading and outright false *cough obamacare cough* with no repercussions.

I did not even realise that the FCC's proposals were not made public. Now I am genuinely nervous, what serpent have they traded the wolf for?

This is not unusual, the reason we haven't seen it yet is because the dissenting 2 boardmembers can delay its release in order to insert their own proposed edits before it gets put into action. We will see it released in a couple weeks, they can't delay it forever, they are likely delaying it long enough for the telecom companies to get their appeal ready to submit, because compainies like comcast have already released statements outlining their intention to challenge the new designation.

We'll get to see the actual content before they put anything into practice, they can't start enforcing anything before they've released it to the public.

Time will tell on this one. I hope this is the big one we were all hoping for but as always I'd advise netizens to never keep their spears and torches out of arms length... There's too much money in the ISP business to not have damaging policies, practices or laws come out of nowhere to deny us a neutral net.

harrisonmcgiggins:
Oh my god, throttling is illegal now? Holy shit, lets see if they actually enforce that

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