The FCC is About to Repeal Net Neutrality. Here’s Why Congress Should Stop Them

Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Networks and Infrastructure and Net Neutrality

Article Snapshot


Barbara van Schewick


Medium, November 26, 2017


In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to repeal net neutrality rules. Net neutrality rules are well established and popular.

Policy Relevance

Congress should intervene to prevent the FCC from repealing net neutrality rules.

Main Points

  • In November of 2017, FCC Chairman Ajit Paj outlined the FCC's plan to repeal federal net neutrality rules.
    • The plan would allow ISPs to block, speed up, or slow down websites, apps, and online services, or offer some customers a "fast lane."
    • The plan reclassifies broadband Internet services as a Title I service, rather than as a common carrier.
    • The plan includes a proposal to ban states from passing net neutrality rules.
  • The United States has always had a de facto net neutrality regime; the architecture of the Internet and a mix of formal and informal FCC rules limited blocking and discrimination by ISPs.
  • The new plan would allow ISPs to charge websites for access to an ISP's customers, block customers that do not pay, and build "fast lanes" for those who pay.
  • Almost every company today relies on the Internet, and small businesses and startups that cannot afford a fast lane under the new regime will find it hard to compete.
  • Repeal of net neutrality rules is unpopular, with 77 percent of Americans supporting the FCC's net neutrality rules.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lacks the authority to stop violations of net neutrality; the FTC can intervene only if the ISP contravenes its own policies for fast lane access, but cannot intervene to protect free speech or innovation.
  • Congress should resolve this issue through net neutrality legislation.

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