FCC Chair Approves Strong Net Neutrality Rules

On February 4, 2015, Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler unveiled his plan to ensure net neutrality in a Wired magazine op-ed.  On February 26, 2015, the FCC voted to approve the strong net neutrality rules.

Wheeler agreed with President Obama’s proposal to regulate Internet traffic as a public utility, but he went a step further. He proposed utilizing the FCC’s Title II powers under the Telecommunications Act to “ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services (and)… to fully apply-for the first time ever-those bright-line rules to mobile broadband.”

Wheeler’s plan would also “for the first time give the F.C.C. enforcement powers to police practices in the marketplace for the handling of data before it enters the gateway network into people’s homes – the so-called interconnect market. For good measure, he added a ‘future conduct’ standard to cover unforeseen problems.”

Although the FCC’s ruling comes as a victory in maintaining the openness and level playing field in providing Internet services, it remains to be seen whether this ruling will be challenged in court, or whether new legislation will be introduced in an attempt to ‘gut’ the FCC’s ruling.
In a related matter, on February 20, a bi-partisan bill was introduced to the Senate that would permanently ban taxes on high-speed Internet service to American customers. A similar bill passed the House of Representatives last year.

Anna Vradenburgh is a well-respected, business-minded expert in intellectual property issues. As a patent attorney licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Anna assists clients in patent and trademark prosecution, and represents clients in trademark opposition matters, domain name dispute matters, and patent and trademark litigation. Anna can also assist your company in all manner of intellectual property protection. For more information, visit her website, or contact Anna at (818) 946-2300. This article is for educational purposes only and nothing in this article is intended to be, nor should be considered legal advice.

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