F.C.C. Votes to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to reinstate regulations expanding government oversight of broadband providers and aimed at protecting consumers’ access to the Internet, a move that will reignite a long-running battle for the open Internet.

Known as net neutrality, these regulations were first put in place nearly a decade ago during the Obama administration and aim to prevent Internet service providers like Verizon or Comcast from blocking or degrading providing services from competitors like Netflix and YouTube. The rules were repealed under President Donald J. Trump and have proven to be a contentious partisan issue over the years, pitting tech giants against broadband providers.

In a 3-2 vote along party lines, the five-member commission appointed by President Biden reinstated rules that declare broadband a regulated utility-type service like telephone and water. The rules also give the FCC the ability to require broadband providers to report and respond to outages, as well as expand the agency’s oversight of provider security issues.

Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC chairwoman and a Democrat, said the rules reflect the importance of high-speed Internet as the primary mode of communication for many Americans.

“Every consumer deserves fast, open and fair Internet access,” Rosenworcel said. “It’s common sense.”

Broadband providers are expected to sue to try to overturn the reinstated rules.

“This is not a problem for broadband consumers, who have enjoyed an open Internet for decades,” said Jonathan Spalter, president of a broadband lobby group, USTelecom. The organization said it would “pursue all available options, including through the courts.”

In a letter sent to Ms. Rosenworcel this week, dozens of leading Republican lawmakers warned that regulating broadband providers like a public utility would hurt the growth of the telecommunications industry.

The main goal of the regulation is to prevent Internet service providers from controlling the quality of consumers’ experience when visiting websites and using online services. When the rules were established, Google, Netflix and other online services warned that broadband providers had an incentive to slow down or block access to their services. Consumer and free speech groups have supported this view.

There have been few examples of sites being blocked or slowed down, which net neutrality supporters say is largely due to fears that companies would attract scrutiny if they did so. And opponents say the rules could lead to increased and unnecessary government oversight of the industry.

“The Internet in the United States thrived in the absence of command-and-control regulation from the government in the 1930s,” said Brendan Carr, a Republican commissioner.

Ten years ago, potential new regulations sparked strong protests. At the time, telecommunications companies were losing market share to online streaming services. Sites like Facebook, Google and Amazon feared being forced to pay telecommunications companies for better provision of their services.

Under the Trump administration, the FCC backed away from net neutrality. Republican lawmakers and FCC commissioners have been reluctant to argue that the rules are unnecessary and that the government is going too far.

Democrats said they were essential to consumer protection. In the void of federal regulation, several states, including California and Washington, have created their own net neutrality laws.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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