Internet Groups In Tricky Position Over US Net Neutrality

 

 

 

 

The problem comes with the form the rules will take. With heavy nudging from the White House, the FCC has opted to repurpose an authority it was given under an old telecoms law, known as Title II, to make it apply to the internet era.

  Like all deeply technical issues that become political footballs, it has not been hard for the rival camps to turn this into opposing talking points. Depending on where you stand, it is either bold action to protect an open internet or inappropriately sweeping, utility-style regulation.

  What is indisputable is that the legislation the FCC is relying on was designed for circuit-switched telephone networks in a different age. The only way to adapt it to modern times is to suppress certain parts of Title II and implement it piecemeal. The FCC promises a light touch: in particular, it says it will avoid price regulation or any requirements that might force operators to unbundle their networks.

  If history is any guide, a challenge in the courts will follow. There is simply too much at stake for the regulations not to be tested. And, as was the case with the last approach to net neutrality, it is not beyond the courts to reject the FCC’s compromise as unduly arbitrary.

  This is where things could become dicey for companies such as Google and Facebook. Who knows how some future FCC would interpret its new Title II powers, or whether a court would order a different implementation of the law. Price regulation of the internet’s interconnection agreements would always be a looming threat.

  It is not just the impact in the US itself that is at stake. There is also the question of what message US regulators are about to send to the rest of the world. The risk is that Washington will be seen to be giving a nod of approval to the idea of extending traditional telecoms rate regulations to the internet.”

 

 

Read the whole piece at Financial Times