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U.S. FCC: A range of net neutrality options remain on the table

Grant Gross | Nov. 3, 2014
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it remains open to a range of options for new net neutrality rules, following a news report saying it is leaning toward a controversial approach that regulates one piece of broadband service.

Reclassification of broadband is not likely "to withstand legal challenge, especially because the commission's reversal of decades of policy would be subject to heightened scrutiny," Verizon's lawyers wrote in the company's white paper.

Some advocates of strong net neutrality rules did not welcome the news that Wheeler may be considering a hybrid regulatory approach. It's "good news" if Wheeler has abandoned an earlier proposal that would allow broadband providers to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management, but hybrid approaches don't go far enough, said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of digital rights group Free Press.

"This Frankenstein proposal is no treat for Internet users, and they shouldn't be tricked," Aaron said in a statement. "No matter how you dress it up, any rules that don't clearly restore the agency's authority and prevent specialized fast lanes and paid prioritization aren't real net neutrality."

The hybrid approaches divide the Internet up to protect corporations sending information, but not the customers receiving it, Aaron added.

"Chairman Wheeler can't wave a wand, change the law, and pretend to break the Internet in two," he added. "Such an untested, too-clever-by-half approach is bad law and a bad idea. It will not survive in court, and it is clearly inferior to reclassifying broadband."

 

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