America’s Net Neutrality Question: Should the FCC define the Internet as a “common carrier”?
The Washington Post editorial board looks into the debate over “net neutrality” in America.
But first, they note that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates communications in America, has “limited authority to regulate unless broadband is considered a ‘common carrier’ under the Communications Act of 1996.”
The FCC moved under President Barack Obama to reclassify broadband so it could regulate broadband companies. The FCC under President Donald Trump reversed the change. Horrified advocates warned the world that without protection, the Internet would crash. You’ll never guess what happened next: nothing. Or at least almost nothing. The Internet was not interrupted, and most ISPs were not blocked or throttled.
However, today the FCC, chaired by Jessica Rosenworcel, has just moved to reclassify broadband. The interesting part is that her strongest argument has nothing to do with net neutrality, but with some other benefit the country could see from having a federal regulator monitor the broadband business… Broadband is an essential service… However, no government agency One with sufficient authority to oversee this vital tool. Asserting federal authority over broadband would make it possible to regulate, restrict, restrict, or prevent competition from prioritizing paid traffic. But it may also help ensure the safety and security of American networks.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on national security grounds, has revoked the license granted to companies affiliated with hostile countries, such as the Chinese company Huawei, from participating in US telecommunications markets. The agency can do this for phone companies. But he I cannot Do it for broadband, because it’s not allowed. Or consider public safety during crises. The FCC doesn’t have access to the data it needs to know when and where broadband outages are occurring — let alone the ability to do anything about those outages if they’re identified. Likewise, it cannot impose network resiliency requirements to help prevent these outages from occurring in the first place — for example, during a natural disaster or cyberattack.
The agency has broad authority to monitor types of services that are becoming less important in American life, such as landlines, and little authority to monitor those that are becoming more important every day.
The FCC acknowledges that this authority would also allow it to prohibit “restriction” of content. But the newspaper’s editorial also makes the argument that here in 2023 “it is unlikely to have any significant impact on the broadband industry in either direction…large consequences have become less likely as high-speed bandwidth has become less limited.”