Statement: FCC Response to Net Neutrality Ruling a Mixed-Bag; Could Lead to More Regulation, Not Less

by Mike Wendy on February 19, 2014

The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, President of

Alexandria, VA, February 19, 2014 – Today the FCC issued new guidance as it seeks to respond to the DC Circuit’s ruling last month, which struck down core aspects of the agency’s Net Neutrality rule.  To this end, the Commission has announced that it will work to enforce and enhance Net Neutrality’s transparency rule; fulfill the rule’s “no blocking” goal; and fulfill Net Neutrality’s non-discrimination goal all in a manner that does not impose common carrier regulation on ISPs for the time being, and which rehabs the infirmities of the prior rule consistent with the Court’s order.

As with the DC Circuit’s ruling, the FCC’s action (which also forgoes appeal of the Court’s ruling) presents a mixed-bag of sorts.

First, it does not definitively take common carrier regulation of ISPs off the table.  Second, it seems to witness a zeal for open-ended use of its “706 authority” to promote an “open and fair” Internet.  And third, it appears the FCC will work to “enhance competition” by promoting, among other things, muni-provided broadband in states and localities.

Combined, the message coming from the Commission to the Internet ecosystem is this: The FCC has more than one way to skin a cat, so beware.

Sadly, however, the “beware” part of this message remains most troubling.  Ostensibly, under the FCC’s new formula, almost anything that touches the Internet could be regulated.  This includes the much-beloved and subsidized “edge.”   Such a policy would be a far cry from the permission-less / light touch regulation which built the Internet we know today.

Consequently – though details of the new FCC “Net Neutrality Light” policy will take time to develop – the DC Circuit’s ruling might actually result in more regulation, not less.  In any event, it seems clear the President was correct in his recent assertion that the “FCC can regulate the space.”  The new policy clearly seeks to do just that.


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