Research Notes

American telecom regulator FCC just released 400 pages of net neutrality rules – Get a review and assessment of rules and likely legal challenges in the 3rd edition of Strand Consult’s report: Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments

A number of countries have made net neutrality rules or are in the process of doing so. Most operators have experienced political interests that want to regulate and control the Internet. The FCC’s rules set a new standard in the demands they place on the industry—and also in their scope which could be used to regulate internet companies, the very service and application providers that the rules purport to protect.

If you think that the so-called Title II regulations in the United States only apply to telecommunications companies, you are wrong. The FCC has chosen to classify broadband under the regulations of the monopoly telephone era, a sharp reversal of its policy that allowed broadband to be relatively free from regulation. In so doing, the FCC opens the Internet to hundreds of rules and provisions. Anything that the FCC deems a telecommunications service, “transmission between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing”, could be regulated. The FCC has also created the ability to hear disputes and bring actions against companies using a“standard of conduct” clause. Interconnection may be the first battle.

Though legal challenges are inevitable and may take years to resolve, the rules will be in effect once they are published in the Federal Register. Only Congress or a court of law can change them.

The EU is working on a compromise between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The art is to craft rules that please advocacy organizations without turning operators into dumb pipes. The Digital Single Market plan is supposed to help the EU exit the financial crisis, increase investments and employment, and drive competitiveness, but net neutrality does none of these things.

The spread of net neutrality rules around the world in the last decade is attributable to the success of advocacy organizations richly funded by the Ford and Soros Open Society Foundations as well as activities by Google and Netflix. The American rules references reports and claims by Free Press 65 times, Public Knowledge 79 times, and Netflix 60 times. There is no doubt that the steps taken in the US will strengthen the movement in other countries and inspire politicians and regulators to push their rules even further.

Rather than net neutrality, which is subterfuge for increasing internet regulation, Strand Consult supports a modernized, competitive, and technology-neutral framework for communications. Moreover Strand Consult believes that consumers deserve the same protections across all technologies.

The most glaring omission of the American rules is that they do nothing to protect people against widespread and growing surveillance by the American government. One the one hand, the American rules demand strong privacy protections; American operators must encrypt their customers data. But on the other hand, American intelligence agencies are able to access and intercept all communications in the country, all communications from the US to foreign countries, and anyone anywhere whom they want to monitor. This is not to diminish legitimate national security concerns and the appropriate role for intelligence agencies, but there is no free and open Internet if NSA, FBI, and GCHQ can do whatever they want with only rubber stamp approval

Strand Consult has studied net neutrality around the world for years and has assembled its knowledge in the report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments. The updated version of the report includes

  • An overview of the American rules and summary of the 400 pages of regulation
  • How the rules will likely be applied, if not abused, to regulate operators and internet companies 
  • A list and explanation of flaws, shortcomings, inconsistencies, and defects in the rules
  • A list and explanation of potential legal challenges
  • A review of advocates’ tactics and strategies in lobbying for net neutrality rules
  • A global summary of net neutrality rules around the world; the actors, legal instruments, and components

This report will ensure that Strand Consult’s customers are prepared to engage in this high stakes debate. To purchase this invaluable report and participate in a workshop with Strand Consult so that you are prepared to engage in the net neutrality debate, contact Strand Consult

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