Last Thursday the FCC released the details on how it would regulate broadband internet providers, and what the rules regarding net neutrality would be going forward. The days, weeks, and months leading up to the release of these rules involved lively discussions between members of the FCC, the legislature, internet providers, and web users in general. Arguments and discussions will certainly continue, and now that the rules have ben officially released, legal challenges are certain to ensue. The final line of this article from the New York Times sums it up: “Telecom lawyers in Washington popped the corks on the champagne…. This will go on for a while.”
The goal of these rules is to “protect the open Internet, advancing principles of so-called net neutrality by prohiniting broadband providers from elevating one kind of content over another.” There has long been support for such protection, but now it is set down in print. Again, though, challenges are expected. For example:
“AT&T’s senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs called the order’s publication the beginning of ‘a period of uncertainty….'” It must be admitted, however, that the fact that certain rules have been at least initially agreed upon and set down means that, though it may be a period of uncertainty, it is at least a period of more certainty than, say, a month ago.
One provision that is sure to lead to debate and uncertainty is that requiring “just and reasonable” conduct, which “allows the FCC to decide what is acceptable on a case-by-case basis.” Everyone concerned will most likely require a more clear guideline than that as these rules continue to be streamlined.