After a lot anticipation and hand wringing, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission finally released its rules about how it will implement its landmark Open Internet Order. The rules — which run some 300 pages — block the creation of fast and slow lanes and appropriately classify broadband internet as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act.
However, the rules don’t include an outright ban of the practice of “zero rating,” schemes devised by internet providers and services like Facebook, Wikimedia, and Spotify that allow users to access certain content without counting against data caps.
Instead, the FCC will investigate abuses of zero rating on a case-by-case basis: “We will look at and assess such practices under the no-unreasonable interference / disadvantage standard, based on the facts of each individual case, and take action as necessary.” In our view, this is not nearly as good as a ban, but we’re psyched the FCC has claimed the authority it needs to stop such abusive practices. The move also leaves the door open for users to petition the agency to stop these practices, and we’re big fans of giving users a remedy.