Public Knowledge: Net Neutrality in Court This Week: The Story of How We Got Here
Net Neutrality is at real risk in Washington. But how did we get there?
Article by Harold Feld for Public Knowledge
Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules to ensure the Internet remains an open platform for consumers and innovators. The new rules (adopted as part of the Open Internet Order) are a capstone to over a decade of policy battles and litigation over how the FCC regulates broadband Internet service. For close observers of the net neutrality saga, this Friday brings a sense of déjà vu, as the agency again heads to Court to defend net neutrality rules at oral argument. The FCC’s relevance in the broadband era, along with how consumers, content creators, entrepreneurs, and network providers interact with each other, hangs in the balance.
How did the FCC find itself back at the D.C. Circuit? It has been a long and winding road, but here are the highlights.
Early 2000’s: The FCC Deregulates Internet Access Services
Until 2002, the FCC regulated DSL as a Title II “telecommunications service,” (under Title II of the Communications Act) just like the telephone network - transmitting information, at the user’s direction, between two points. Then along came cable modem service. After a few years of the FCC fiddling around, the Commission in 2002 changed course and declared that cable modem Internet service was a Title I (again, under the Communications Act) “information service.” The FCC also started the ball rolling to get DSL declared as Title I.
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