Net Neutrality: Can the FCC Reclassify Broadband Internet Access Services? [December 4, 2014]   [open pdf - 56KB]

"On November 10, 2014, President Obama released a statement urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules governing the provision of broadband Internet access services, commonly called 'net neutrality' rules. In the statement, the President recommended that the FCC reclassify the statutory definition of broadband Internet access services from information services to telecommunications services. Such reclassification would grant the FCC more clear authority to impose the rules that the President has recommended. Title II of the Communications Act permits the FCC to regulate the rates of services classified as telecommunications services and to prohibit unreasonable discrimination in the provision of those services, among other things. In other words, telecommunications services may be regulated as 'common carriers,' and if broadband Internet service providers were reclassified as telecommunications services, they may be regulated as common carriers as well. However, many that recommend that the FCC reclassify broadband Internet access services, including President Obama, recommend that the FCC forbear from applying many of the provisions of Title II to broadband Internet access services, including the provision authorizing rate regulation. Instead, many reclassification advocates argue that only network neutrality rules, which would require disclosure, would prohibit blocking or throttling of legal content, and would prohibit certain kinds of content discrimination on the part of service providers, should be implemented following reclassification."

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CRS Legal Sidebar, December 4, 2014
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