Washington, D.C. — Today the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to apply common carrier regulations to internet service providers, an historic move that creates strong Net Neutrality protections for users. The vote came after a year in which millions of internet users, companies, and organizations urged the Commission to use Title II of the Communications Act to regulate broadband providers and protect Net Neutrality on both fixed and mobile networks.
This decision enacts recommendations that Access and millions of others submitted to the FCC last summer.
“This is an historic moment in the history of the internet,” said Access Advocacy Director Josh Levy. “The FCC has finally listened to the voices of millions of internet users. Its bold decision to use Title II to protect the open net means Net Neutrality for millions in the U.S. — and it clears the way for Net Neutrality for millions more around the world.”
The full text of the rules have not yet been released to the public, and are expected to run some 300 pages. Access will closely read the rules to determine if they address the use of price discrimination, or “zero rating” — deals in which telcos and tech companies team up to offer certain apps or services for free, while charging standard data fees for the rest of the internet.
“Zero rating has largely slipped under the radar,” Levy continued, “but the practice runs completely counter to the concept of Net Neutrality. We hope the FCC will address this practice, which allows telcos to sneakily discriminate against users and offer yet another kind of two-tiered internet.”
The U.S. FCC’s decision will reverberate around the globe. In early February, 31 groups from 21 countries issued a statement about how the world is closing watching U.S. policy making on this issue.
“Europe is also on the path to strong Net Neutrality protections,” said Access European Policy Manager Raegan MacDonald. “Price discrimination is one of the major sticking points in the negotiations for a Regulation on the Telecoms Single Market. If the U.S. FCC addresses zero rating, this would set an important precedent for others to follow.”
To underscore the world’s support for Net Neutrality, nearly 60 organizations from every continent have joined the Global Net Neutrality coalition, endorsing a simple definition of the term and vowing to work together to protect the open net. The full coalition list can be viewed here: https://www.thisisnetneutrality.org