FCC to rewrite net neutrality rules, expects ISPs to behave in the meantime

If you can't beat 'em, rewrite 'em

Update: Some statements from internet service providers have popped up over the course of the day.

Via PC World, from AT&T: "AT&T has built its broadband business, both wired and wireless, on the principal of Internet openness … that is what our customers rightly expect, and it is what our company will continue to deliver. That is also why we endorsed the FCC's original rule on net neutrality, and is why we pledged to adhere to openness principles even after the recent court decision."

From Comcast: "With the direction announced today, FCC Chairman Wheeler has taken a thoughtful approach which creates a path for enforceable rules based on the appropriate authority outlined by the court's findings."

And from Verizon, the company that challenged the FCC's existing net neutrality rules and won in January: "[Verizon] remains committed to an open Internet that provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where and how they want," said spokesperson Ed McFadden.

Will Verizon challenge the new rules as well? McFadden wouldn't say, since they're "all hypothetical at this stage, just like net neutrality itself."

Original story follows…

The Federal Communications Commission is not giving up on the open internet, despite setbacks that occurred last month.

In fact, the FCC is rewriting its net neutrality rules altogether, said commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Net neutrality was struck down in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last month when a Judge David Tatel determined that the FCC's doctrine was not based on solid legal grounds.

But even Tatel agreed that open internet laws serve an important purpose, encouraging the FCC to consider its options in getting them back on track.

Respect the authority

At the time Wheeler said the FCC would consider all its options, including appealing the court ruling, but it's set out on the harder road: rewriting net neutrality entirely.

Wheeler said in a statement that he intends to write new "rules that will meet the court's test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among Internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how Internet service providers manage traffic, and enhancing competition."

The court ruled in January that the FCC does indeed have the authority to make these rules, and the commission will use that affirmation as part of the argument in its rewrite.

The FCC is apparently also still considering re-classifying broadband service providers as "common carriers," which might partially fix the loophole that allowed Verizon to successfully challenge net neutrality.

Honor system

Meanwhile, Wheeler said the FCC expects internet service providers (ISPs) to uphold the commission's net neutrality rules despite the court's recent ruling.

He said the commission will take action against ISPs that don't.

"That's the right and responsible thing to do," Wheeler said.

He added that the FCC is also considering whether it can get rid of state laws that currently prohibit cities and municipalities from offering their own broadband services.


Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for Playboy.com, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.