The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the approval of the net neutrality law by a 3-2 vote today. Chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler said, “that no one- whether government or corporate- should control free open access to the Internet.”
This law requires different service providers to act as an unbiased gateway to the open Internet and it prohibits the implementation of varying costs for handling Internet traffic.
The Net Neutrality Act is a crucial step towards figuring out how the Internet must be regulated or whether it should be regulated at all. It implies that no content should be blocked and that the Internet is not divided into “pay-to-play fast lanes” for service providers who can afford it and a slow Internet for everyone else.
A previous version of the law was passed back in 2010 but was withheld because of a legal challenge by Verizon. The U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit then dismissed the law saying that the FCC did not the authority to regulate broadband. Last year, the Net Neutrality Act was shunned by most Republicans in Congress who were slow to take public opinion into account. Now senior congressional republicans have relinquished their opposition towards Net Neutrality as a service.
The FCC has taken a huge step in regulation by using Title II of the Telecommunications Act to re-classify the Internet as a telecommunications service instead of an information service.
In November of last year, President Obama asked the commission to reclassify the internet under the aforementioned Title II Act. He said, “For most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of communication and everyday life.”
Of course this means that as internet service providers face restricted competition, they are expected to challenge this decision in court, which remains to be seen.