The Federal Communications Commission has formally voted for another step towards killing net neutrality. It has officially proposed reclassifying both broadband and mobile data in ways that reduce the ability of the agency to regulate it.
As would be expected, the measure passed by two votes to one among the three current commissioners; two seats on the commission remain vacant.
The proposal is for three changes. The first is to reclassify broadband from a Title II service to a Title I service. Those names refer to the relevant section of the Communications Act. In effect the change would mean that – as was the case until 2015 – broadband was treated as a less-regulated information service rather than a more-regulated communications service such as fixed-line telephone calls. Previous FCC attempts to enforce net neutrality had been challenged on the grounds that they were beyond the scope of Title I regulation.
The second change is to redefine mobile broadband as a “private mobile service” while the third change is to ditch special rules known as the “Internet conduct standard.” In both cases, the power of the FCC to enforce net neutrality principles (and indeed any other regulatory measures) would be heavily restricted by the changes.
As is usual for such proposals, there’ll now be a public consultation period until mid-August before the FCC votes on whether to formally make the changes.