November 6, 2014
The Federal Communications Commission may reverse its rules about net neutrality after consumer advocates argued that the “fast lane” deals between various companies and Internet service providers were characterized as unfair. Verizon reportedly plans to sue the government if the FCC adopts stronger net neutrality rules. Under the FCC’s plans, ISPs would be treated as a utility in their dealings with content providers, but their Internet service to consumers would be only lightly regulated.
The FCC is close to proposing this new hybrid-approach to net neutrality. Verizon General Counsel Randal Milch wrote on the company’s policy blog that the plan “fairly guarantees litigation.”
By reclassifying ISPs as utilites, “this wouldn’t outlaw fast lane or ‘paid prioritization’ deals but would make it easier for the government to block arrangements deemed harmful to consumers,” reports Ars Technica. Fast lane deals would give companies’ priority in the congestion of Web traffic — for a fee.
In the blog post, Verizon urges the FCC to use Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, instead of Title II, as the basis of the new rules. In the past, the FCC has used Section 706 in the 2010 rules and the tentative plans that were approved in May.
Verizon actually already sued the government over the 2010 rules, which contained rules against the “Internet fast lanes.” Judges in a federal appeals court ultimately decided that the FCC would have to use Title II, not Section 706, to enforce such rules.
Verizon has gone back and forth on whether it will actually make paid prioritization deals. Just last week, Milch told lawmakers that Verizon had no plans to make any deals for the use of fast lanes. However, in the court case over the 2010 rules, Verizon argued that it would engage in those sorts of paid agreements if they could.