The controversial proposal to undo net neutrality rules in the United States put forward by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this week prompted countless criticism in recent days, with one of the most vocal arguments against the draft order being the notion that the new FCC is still refusing to define the broadband Internet as a telecommunications service. Despite being one of the most revolutionary telecom technologies ever invented that transformed the way in which the global economy works, the broadband Internet is now close to being classified as an information service. By doing so, the FCC led by President Trump-appointment Chairman Ajit Pai is seeking to recuse itself from any net neutrality discussions despite formally acknowledging the importance of having an open Internet.
While the federal regulator isn’t denying the benefits of a truly neutral World Wide Web, Pai remains adamant that ensuring such online environment doesn’t fall within the scope of the agency’s jurisdiction. The controversial move to reclassify ISPs as companies offering information instead of telecommunications services is an attempt to legitimize that notion and place any burden of sanctioning potential net neutrality violations on the Federal Trade Commission. The sole possibility of the FTC enforcing net neutrality rules also doesn’t appear to be realistic as the only such regulations are now set to be repealed by the FCC in mid-December and were never actually enacted into law in the first place. That state of affairs prompted some net neutrality advocates to call for the U.S. Congress to codify net neutrality principles but without any significant success so far.
The FCC’s 2015 decision to classify ISPs as utility providers under Title II regulations of the 1934 Telecommunications Act allowed it to regulate them as traditional telecoms and prevent them from selling prioritized access to the Internet or certain parts of the thereof. Most ISPs claimed the move was based on obsolete laws made for a different kind of companies, yet their opponents are now saying the same for the principles used by the new FCC to repeal the previous regulations by claiming the broadband providers aren’t offering a telecommunications service because they store some data in the process of connecting their customers online. While cynics are equaling that reasoning to saying that a smartphone isn’t a telecommunications device but a movie theater because it can be used to watch Netflix, it appears that the Republican majority of the FCC’s Commissioners are all but set to repeal the regulations next month and allow ISPs to throttle any content they want or make customers pay extra for not having their connections slowed down regardless of the domains they’re accessing.