The FCC releases final draft of net neutrality repeal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released the final draft of its Restoring Internet Freedom Order, or the net neutrality repeal order as it’s more commonly known.

The move comes a month after the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules in a 3-2 vote across party lines led by chairman Ajit Pai. The draft includes the text and final wording of the new rules that will come into force under the FCC and its justifications of it.

Included within the final draft is the definition of broadband Internet access service as an ‘information service’ as opposed to a ‘telecommunications service’. According to the document an information service is ‘the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications, and includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use of any such capability for the management, control, or operation of a telecommunications system or the management of a telecommunications service’ in comparison to a telecommunications service which is ‘the offering of telecommunications for a fee directly to the public, or to such classes of users as to be effectively available directly to the public, regardless of the facilities used’.

Additionally, the order also states that ‘mobile broadband Internet access service should not be classified as a commercial mobile service or its functional equivalent’ and instead will define it as a ‘interconnected service’.

The draft goes on to argue that ‘ISPs have strong incentives to preserve Internet openness, and these interests typically outweigh any countervailing incentives an ISP might have’ furthering its argument for a light-touch approach to internet legislation.

Though Pai does mention in a statement that ISP will be required to disclose a lot more public information for increased transparency that in previous years.

“We require ISPs to disclose a variety of business practices, and the failure to do so subjects them to enforcement action. This transparency rule will ensure that consumers know what they’re buying and startups get information they need as they develop new products and services.”

The news comes as the Internet Association (IA) announces its plans to join the legal appeal against the net neutrality repeal by the FCC. The association joins the likes of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who announced that he would be leading a multi-state lawsuit against the FCC, within hours of the decision being made. So far Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson, Oregon state attorney general Ellen Rosenblum, Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan, Iowa attorney general Tom Miller, Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey and Scott Wiener, a California state senator are all said to be following suit.  

Commenting on its decision to take the FCC to court, the IA said: "Restoring Internet Freedom Order' "will gut net neutrality protections for consumers, start-ups, and other stakeholders." Adding that it would continue to push for legislation to restore "strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution".

For further reading on the decision to repeal net neutrality, take a look at our feature from our Dec/Jan issue of Capacity magazine: Net neutrality: Moving into the fast lane?

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