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FCC proposal for Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

FCC proposal for Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

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The Federal Communications Commission released draft rules for public comment on May 14, 2014.
The Federal Communications Commission released draft rules for public comment on May 14, 2014.

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Published by: United Press International on May 20, 2014
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Federal Communications CommissionFCC 14-61BeforetheFederal Communications CommissionWashington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet
)))))))
GN Docket No. 14-28
NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKINGAdopted: May 15, 2014Released:May 15, 2014Comment Date: July 15, 2014Reply Comment Date: September 10, 2014
By theCommission: Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn issuing separate statements; Commissioner Rosenworcel concurring and issuing a statement.Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly dissenting and issuing separate statements.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Para.I.INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................................1II.BACKGROUND..................................................................................................................................11III.DISCUSSION......................................................................................................................................25A.The Continuing Need for Open Internet Protections.....................................................................251.An Open Internet Promotes Innovation, Competition, Free Expression, and Infrastructure Deployment......................................................................................................252.Broadband Providers Have the Incentive and Ability to Limit Openness...............................39B.Scope of the Rules.........................................................................................................................54C.Transparency Requirements to Protect and Promote Internet Openness.......................................631.The 2010 Transparency Rule...................................................................................................632.Enhancing Transparency to Protect and Promote Internet Openness......................................663.Compliance and Enforcement.................................................................................................87D.Preventing Blocking of Lawful Content, Applications, Services, and Nonharmful Devices........891.The 2010 No-Blocking Rule...................................................................................................912.Proposal to Adopt a No-Blocking Rule...................................................................................943.Establishing the Minimum Level of Access under the No-Blocking Rule.............................974.Application of the No-Blocking Rule to Mobile Broadband................................................1055.Applicability of the No-Blocking Rule to Devices...............................................................109
 
Federal Communications CommissionFCC 14-61
2E.Codifying an Enforceable Rule to Protect the Open Internet That Is Not Common Carriage
 Per Se
............................................................................................................................1101.The 2010 No Unreasonable Discrimination Rule.................................................................1132.Proposed Elements of an Enforceable Legal Rule................................................................1163.Potential Conduct That Is
 Per Se
Commercially Unreasonable............................................1374.Potential Safe Harbors...........................................................................................................139F.Legal Authority............................................................................................................................1421.Section 706............................................................................................................................1432.Title II....................................................................................................................................1483.Other Sources of Authority...................................................................................................1564.Constitutional Considerations...............................................................................................159G.Other Laws and Considerations...................................................................................................160H.Enforcement and Dispute Resolution..........................................................................................1611.Background...........................................................................................................................1612.Designing an Effective Enforcement Process.......................................................................1623.Complaint Processes, Enforcement, and Additional Forms of Dispute Resolution..............172IV.PROCEDURAL MATTERS..............................................................................................................177A.Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis.............................................................................................177B.Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.........................................................................................178C.Comment Filing Procedures........................................................................................................179D.Ex Parte Rules..............................................................................................................................181E.Contact Person.............................................................................................................................182V.ORDERING CLAUSES.....................................................................................................................183APPENDIX A—Proposed RulesAPPENDIX B—Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
 
Federal Communications CommissionFCC 14-61
3
I.INTRODUCTION
1.The Internet is America’s most important platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression, and broadband investment and deployment. As a “general purpose technology,” the Internet has been, and remains to date, the preeminent 21st century engine for innovation and the economic and social benefits that follow.These benefits flow, in large part, from the open, end-to-end architecture of the Internet, which is characterized by low barriers to entry for developers of new content, applications, services, and devices and a consumer-demand-driven marketplace for their  products.As the Commission explained in its 2010
Open Internet Order 
, the Internet’s open architecture allows innovators and consumers at the edges of the network “to createand determine the success or failure of content, applications, services and devices,” without requiring permission from the broadband  provider to reach end users.
1
 As an open platform, it fosters diversity and it enables people to build communities.2.We start with a fundamental question: What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open? This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice), and the comment process that follows, will turn on this fundamental question. 3.Today, there are no legallyenforceable rules by which the Commission can stop  broadband providers from limiting Internet openness. This Noticebegins the process of closing that gap,  by proposing to reinstitute the no-blocking rule adopted in 2010 and creating a new rule that would bar commercially unreasonable actions from threatening Internet openness (as well as enhancing the transparency rule that is currently in effect). 4.The goal of this proceeding is to find the best approach to protecting and promoting Internet openness. Per the blueprint offered by the D.C. Circuit in its decision in
Verizon v. FCC 
, the Commission proposes to rely on section 706 of theTelecommunications Act of 1996
.
2
 
At the same time, the Commission will seriously consider the use of Title II of the Communications Act as the basis for legal authority. This Notice seeks comment on the benefits of both section 706 and Title II, including the  benefits of one approach over the other. Under all available sources of legal authority (including also Title III for mobile services), the Commission seeks comment on the best ways to define, prevent and  punish the practices that threaten an open Internet. We emphasize in this Notice that the Commission recognizes that both section 706 and Title II are viable solutions and seek comment on their potential use. 5.It is important to always remember that the Internet is a collection of networks, not a single network.And that means that each broadband provider can either add to the benefits that the Internet delivers to Americans—by maintaining Internet openness and by extending the reach of  broadband networks—or it can threaten those benefits—by restricting its customers from the Internet and  preventing edge providers from reaching consumers over robust, fast and continuously improving networks. This is a real threat, not merely a hypothetical concern. 6.In its 2010
Order 
, the Commission found that providers of broadband Internet access service had three types of incentives to limit Internet openness. First, broadband providers may have economic incentives to block or disadvantage a particular edge provider or class of edge
1
 Preserving the Open Internet 
, GN Docket No. 09-191, WC Docket No. 07-52, Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd 17905, 17910, para. 13 (2010) (
Open Internet Order
or
Order 
),
aff’d in part 
,
vacated and remanded in part sub nom.Verizon v. FCC 
, 740 F.3d 623 (D.C. Cir. 2014). Among other examples, the Commission cited Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who—25 years ago—needed neither permission nor approvals from network operators to invent the World Wide Web using existing Internet layer and transport protocols.
 Id.
2
Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, § 706, 110 Stat. 56, 153 (1996) (
1996  Act 
), as amended in relevant part by the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA), Pub. L. No. 110-385, 122 Stat. 4096 (2008), is now codified in Title 47, Chapter 12 of the United States Code.
See
47 U.S.C. § 1301
et seq
.

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