Here are some things to know about the proposed rules and “net neutrality”:
Under the proposed rules, Internet providers would be able to charge other companies for priority, high-speed, access to their users.
A previous set of rules adopted in 2010 was struck down by an appeals court in January after Verizon challenged them. The FCC says the revised regulations now under consideration follow the blueprint set forth by that court decision.
The commission also will consider the possibility of defining Internet service providers as “common carriers,” like telephone companies, which are subject to greater regulation than Internet providers, under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
If the FCC adopts the common carrier option, then Internet service providers would be required to treat all traffic on their networks equally, just as telephone companies have had to do on their lines for decades.
Internet companies such as Netflix that do a lot of business online, and use a significant amount of data, don’t want to have to pay for reliable and fast delivery of online video, music and other content. They contend that’s something consumers are already financing when they pay $50 to $80 per month for high-speed Internet service from companies such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications.
Netflix released a statement Thursday saying that it is still concerned that the proposed approach could “legalize discrimination, harming innovation and punishing U.S. consumers with a broadband experience that’s worse than they already have.”
Meanwhile, smaller companies say they can’t afford to pay. And conservatives don’t like the idea of additional regulation over the Internet and the companies that provide it.
Advocates for an open Internet are outraged. Some protested Thursday’s hearing, banging drums and holding signs calling for net neutrality. The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement saying that the proposed rules would put individuals at the mercy of Internet providers, who would be able to decide what is seen and how fast.
— The Associated Press