Washington - Feb 19, 2014 - The FCC introduced another proposal for new rules meant to keep the Internet free and open. The proposal comes at a time when the Commission is reviewing a pending merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Large ISPs such as Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner have spent billions of dollars upgrading their network infrastructures, and argue that they should be able to manage their networks as they see fit. For example, charging content providers such as Netflix and Amazon a fee so they will have faster access to end users, according to the New York Times.
The Commission's two previous efforts to enforce net neutrality have both failed. First in a 2010 case against Comcast, and then in a 2013 case against Verizon; however, in the 2013 case the court said the FCC did have the authority to oversee Internet services in ways that encourage competition. Consumer advocates have generally sided with the FCC in the belief that Internet providers should not give preferential treatment to content companies willing to pay extra, since those costs will likely be passed on to end-users.
The Times article goes on to say that Tom Wheeler, who took over as the FCC chairman in November 2013, has made the net-neutrality issue an important one for the agency. "Preserving the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace is an important responsibility of this agency," Wheeler said in a statement. The Commission will accept public comments on the newly proposed rules, which are expected to be formalized by summer 2014. Three of the commissioners, including Wheeler, are Democrats, so the rules are likely to be adopted.