FCC Releases Net Neutrality Rollback Order

Three weeks after the FCC commissioners voted 3-2 to roll back net neutrality rules, the FCC's Wireline competition bureau has released the over 500-page combination declaratory ruling, report and order, and order.

The item reclassifies ISPs—wired and wireless—and interconnection as Title I information services from Title II telecoms subject to common carrier regs. It also eliminates the no blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization rules and the general conduct standard—it said the standard's costs outweighed any benefits—while enhancing reporting requirements.

It returns broadband privacy authority to the Federal Trade Commission and preempts local or state net neutrality regs—several states have pledged to fill what they see as the regulatory vacuum left by the rule rollback.

Related: FCC Announces Boost to Regulated Cable Rates

That starts the timetable for the new net neutrality regulation framework to go into effect. An FCC spokesman said: "The Order is effective following approval by the OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Once OMB approves it, the FCC will publish a notice in the Federal Register with the effective date, which will be shortly after the FR publication of that notice."

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who dissented from the item, hammered it once again.

“So many people rightfully believe Washington is not listening to their concerns, fears, and desires," said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "It saddens me that with the release of this decision rolling back net neutrality, you can add the FCC to the list.  In this document, the American public can see for themselves the damage done by this agency to internet openness. Going forward, our broadband providers will have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content. This is not right. To make matters worse, the FCC’s broken and corrupted process for reaching this decision demonstrated extraordinary contempt for public input.  In this decision, the FCC is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public. It deserves to be revisited, reexamined, and ultimately reversed.”

Related: Net Neutrality Group Targets Dems and Republicans

The major ISPs have pledged not to block or throttle, a promise that could be enforced by the FTC under its unfair or deceptive practices authority.

Net neutrality activist Fight for the Future used the release to push its effort to get Congress to nullify the decision via a Congressional Review Act resolution.

“Now that the final text of the FCC order to kill net neutrality has been released, every member of Congress has a decision to make," said campaign director Evan Greer. "Are they going to ignore overwhelming public opinion during a tight election year and rubber stamp these 500+ pages of blatant, stinking corruption? Or will they listen to their constituents, small businesses, free speech advocates and tech experts and support a Congressional Review Act (CRA) vote to overturn the FCC’s repeal and restore net neutrality protections that keep the web free from censorship, throttling, and new fees.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.