Net neutrality is an essential component to an open Internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today voted to protect the Internet, preserving it as a platform for innovation, free expression, and economic growth. The decision ends years of growing uncertainty about the future of the Internet.
The FCC is setting sustainable rules aimed at protecting innovation and free expression while promoting investment in the country’s broadband networks. In announcing its decision today, the FCC emphasized its commitment to protecting the Internet, saying that its attempts to implement enforceable and sustainable rules have been downplayed twice by the courts.
Realizing that inaction puts the open Internet at risk, the Commission is enforcing new rules that are guided by the principle that America’s broadband networks must be fast, fair, and open. According to the FCC, broadband providers have “economic incentives” that poses a threat to Internet openness, acting in ways that would eventually inhibit the “speed and extent of future broadband deployment.”
The FCC’s new Open Internet Order, unlike the 2010 rules, which had limited applicability to mobile broadband, will apply to both fixed and mobile broadband. The three “bright line rules” bans practices that threaten the open Internet. The first rule prevents broadband providers from blocking access to legal content, applications, services and non-harmful devices.
The second rule bans broadband providers from degrading lawful Internet traffic. The third rule evicts the practice of favoring Internet traffic over another traffic in exchange for money or consideration of any kind. The FCC stressed that ISPs cannot prioritize the content and services of their affiliates. The new rules, the FCC says, will create a new standard for the future.
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Since the Internet is evolving, a new standard will address new challenges. It also ensures that the FCC will have the authority to address suspicious practices in the future. Another advantage is greater transparency as the new rules will require broadband providers to disclose information such as promotional rates, fees and surcharges, data caps, packet losses, and notices of service interruption.