The FCC has released the final draft of its proposal to destroy net neutrality. The order removes nearly every net neutrality rule on the books — internet providers will be free to experiment with fast and slow lanes, prioritize their own traffic, and block apps and services. There’s really only one rule left here: that ISPs have to publicly disclose when they’re doing these things.
In the proposal, the commission calls its 2015 net neutrality ruling a “misguided and legally flawed approach.” It repeatedly states that the 2015 order “erred,” was “incorrect,” and came to “erroneous conclusions.” Removing these rules, the commission now argues, will “facilitate critical broadband investment and innovation by removing regulatory uncertainty and lowering compliance costs.”
The proposal also argues that consumer protections simply aren’t necessary because Federal Trade Commission will now have oversight of ISPs. “The transparency requirement we adopt, together with antitrust and consumer protection laws, ensures that consumers have means to take remedial action if an ISP engages in behavior inconsistent with an open internet,” the proposal states.
So while blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization may be okay with the FCC, the commission says that ISPs will still have to answer to the FTC, which may or may not be okay with those things. At a bare minimum though, the FTC has to be at least somewhat accepting of them — a court has already ruled that blocking those things outright would treat internet providers like common carriers; and since this proposal removes the common carrier designation from internet providers, that won’t be allowed.
The order will be voted on next month, at the commission’s December 14th meeting, where it’s almost certain to pass.