Net Neutrality Reconsideration Petition Filed at FCC

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

More fans of network neutrality rules have asked the FCC to return its bright-line rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, saying eliminated those rules has negatively impacted connectivity at a time--during the COVID-19 pandemic--when connectivity is a key public interest priority.

That came in a petition for reconsideration from Common Cause, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute, the United Church of Christ, OC Inc., and Free Press, all of whom opposed the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom order under former FCC chairman Ajit Pai, which eliminated those rules and essentially took the FCC out of the internet access regulation business.

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The petition followed one filed by INCOMPAS last week.

The FCC under Pai reclassified ISPs as Title I information services not subject to mandatory carriage or, potentially, rate regulations, and eliminated those rules, imposed by the previous Democratic FCC, as well as a catch-all rule that would allow the FCC to regulate conduct that did not fall under the other rules but that it concluded might hurt an open internet.

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The petition argues the FCC's deregulation "weakened the FCC’s legal authority to provide low-income households with affordable broadband through the Lifeline program at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for connectivity greater than ever."

They want the FCC, now headed by an acting Democratic chair, Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against the deregulation, to reinstate broadband as a Title II service, the FCC's "strongest legal authority - to support affordable broadband," they say. That is because Title II common carrier regs include mandatory access rate regulation authority.

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.