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November 29, 2017 by Tom Cohen

Getting a Closer Look at the Restoring Internet Freedom Order at the FCC

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So, last week I indicated that the FCC will be considering the Restoring Internet Freedom order at its December 14 meeting, and it’s a sweeping repudiation of the 2015 Open Internet decision, effectively deregulating the provision of broadband Internet access service. Here’s what’s been proposed --

Restoring Internet Freedom

  • Broadband Internet access service will again be classified as an information service, subject to Title I of the Communications Act.
  • The General Conduct Standard, which prohibited unreasonable actions by ISPs, will be repealed.
  • The Bright Light rules (no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization) will be repealed.
  • Parts of the Transparency rule, requiring disclosures by ISPs, will remain intact.
  • States will not be permitted to adopt laws/regulations in conflict with the FCC decision.

Once the FCC acts, it is almost certain that consumer groups will seek court review of the decision. Whether Congress gets engaged is an open issue, but the odds do not favor it. Finally, this decision will result in the FCC no longer having authority to oversee broadband privacy issues, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will resume oversight (once the US Court of Appeals rules) – with ISPs also likely being subject to “mini-FTC” laws adopted by states to prevent unfair acts and deceptive practices.

As for the CAF II Auction order, that was not posted for the December meeting, but I expect it will be considered early next year, most likely at the meeting at the end of January.