The unbearable clarity of "common carrier" status
The Federal Communications Commission already has the power to get us Net neutrality. It's called "common carrier" status.
If the FCC classifies Internet service providers as a "telecommunications" service, same as it has long done with telephone service, then common carrier rules apply. When you call somebody on the phone, it goes through and has the same sound quality regardless of whether you're rich or poor and regardless of whom you're calling, right? Voilà, Net neutrality.
That's it. That's pretty much all there is to it.
Aren't you astounded that ISPs aren't already considered telecommunications service providers? Kind of boggles the mind, doesn't it? The FCC had instead tried to regulate them as an "information" service, before a court rightly struck those jury-rigged rules down (see below the fold). Why did the FCC try that? To let the ISPs "innovate" and use their utility-in-all-but-name status to extract tolls coming and going.
Here's a more thorough treatment of the regulatory history:
Under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 [PDF], the FCC can ensure “common carriers” like the telephone companies serve the “public interest” and do not discriminate in who can use their services. [...]The amazing thing is that current FCC Chairman and former telecom lobbyist Tom Wheeler publicly acknowledges it. Listen to this pathetic, plaintive wail of his, as he describes how common carrier is the right thing to do, but he just doesn't wanna:
Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, there is a critical distinction between “telecommunications,” which are subject to Title II, and “information services,” which are not. [...] These services are subject to the vague provisions of Title I, which do not forbid the kind of discrimination that is illegal under Title II. [...]
Some legal experts assumed that while a service sold on the internet would not be subject to Title II, the internet itself would be seen as a “common carrier.” [...] But in 2002, the FCC, led by Republican Michael Powell, the son of Colin Powell, ruled that internet companies provided “information services” and were not subject to Title II regulation.Obama's FCC Isn't Really Doing Anything about Net Neutrality
By John B. Judis, Feb. 21, 2014, New Republic
If the proposal before us now turns out to be insufficient or if we observe anyone taking advantage of the rule, I won’t hesitate to use Title II. However, unlike with Title II, we can use the court’s roadmap to implement Open Internet regulation now rather than endure additional years of litigation and delay. [...]And it goes on like that, waaah waaah blah blah. Spare us, Chairman Wheeler! Just propose the Title II reg's already! As one commenter on the FCC Blog put it:
Using every power also includes using Title II if necessary. If we get to a situation where arrival of the “next Google” or the “next Amazon” is being delayed or deterred, we will act as necessary using the full panoply of our authority. Just because I believe strongly that following the court’s roadmap will enable us to have rules protecting an Open Internet more quickly, does not mean I will hesitate to use Title II if warranted.Finding the Best Path Forward to Protect the Open Internet
By Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman, April 29, 2014, Official FCC Blog
chris hern, Apr. 29, 2014With an ISP, you pay for a certain rate of connectivity to the Internet. You should not be paying again for the 1s and 0s you already paid to access. It seems the meaning of "financial transaction" is lost: buy something so that you can buy it again! It doesn't matter if half of it is streaming porn video. Too bad for the ISPs, we paid them for the service. Most importantly, don't let the ISPs build a faster rich-folks/big-corporate Internet and leave us human beings behind with slow and censored service. To let go of equal treatment on the Internet would be to surrender a great, revolutionary, and ever-more-versatile power to communicate.
Your proposal would work only in one condition.... if cable companies would care more about customers than profits.
In other words, to be as politely as possible, it's all bullshit.
Classify it as title II. It's the only way information will freely flow.
Please make a comment filing with the FCC today and tell them to implement common carrier status for Internet service providers. Click on Proceeding #14-28, "Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet." Now is a great time to do so—the FCC is smarting from the public uproar. And please sign this petition:
[...] The agency can preserve Net Neutrality only by designating broadband as a telecommunications service under the law. Anything else is an attack on our rights to connect and communicate.
Tell FCC Chairman Wheeler to throw out his proposed rules. Demand nothing less than real Net Neutrality.Stop the FCC from Breaking the Internet
Here is the key part of the court ruling that struck down the FCC's earlier fake-it-'til-you-make-it rules, as noted in The New York Times:
Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.For more information and links, see this overly-credulously-titled but actually well-written post:
United States Court of Appeals
For the District of Columbia Circuit
Argued Sept. 9, 2013 • Decided Jan. 14, 2014
Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance, et al., Intervenors
FCC: We'll Treat Internet Like Telephones if That's What It Takes
By Adam Clark Estes, Apr. 29, 2014, Gizmodo