Net Neutrality Push Shifts Into Drive

The next phase of the battle over who gets to regulate the internet and how is under way with the publication of the FCC’s rollback of its 2015 network neutrality rules in the Federal Register.

Publication triggers legal challenges — several are coming — as well as an effort by Democrats in Congress to nullify the FCC’s decision. While the fate of those legal challenges is up for seemingly endless debate, the chances that Democrats will be able to use a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the order over Republican objections are slim to none. The Hill effort could keep the issue in the spotlight for the midterms, though.

But while the legal challenges and CRA effort can start, the rule rollback won’t take effect — it was voted Dec. 14 — until the Federal Register publishes Office of Management & Budget approval of the added paperwork from the enhanced transparency portion of the item. A central piece of enforcing net neutrality is having internet service providers tell the government exactly what they are doing to manage and monetize their networks, as the rules against blocking, and throttling and paid prioritization will disappear once the item becomes effective.

While the Federal Register suggested that some of the rules would go into effect April 23, leading to reports of a hard date, an FCC spokesman clarified nothing of substance was taking effect until after OMB publication.

Meanwhile, net neutrality activists have declared Feb. 27 to be a day of action in their pushback against the order.

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.