On 26 February 2015, the FCC adopted by a 3-2 vote new network neutrality rules. At the time, as is normal for FCC rule adoption, the rules were secret, available only to the commissioners and a few aides.
Two weeks later, the rules have been published. They include 305 pages of history, explanation, rulings, forbearance orders, constitutional considerations, and regulatory flexibility analysis; 87 pages of commission statements (including 80 pages of dissent, 64 from one commissioner); and a mere 8 pages of regulation. Fewer than two pages of that involves the actual net neutrality rules; the rest covers definitions requirements for filing pleas and complaints, for confidentiality of proprietary information, and requesting advisory opinions.
To emphasize this point, I’m putting the text of the new rules below. It’s very simple, and very easy to read and understand.
§ 8.1 Purpose.
The purpose of this Part is to protect and promote the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission, and thereby to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability and remove barriers to infrastructure investment.
§ 8.2 Definitions.
(a) Broadband Internet access service. A mass-market retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up Internet access service. This term also encompasses any service that the Commission finds to be providing a functional equivalent of the service described in the previous sentence, or that is used to evade the protections set forth in this Part.
(b) Edge provider. Any individual or entity that provides any content, application, or service over the Internet, and any individual or entity that provides a device used for accessing any content, application, or service over the Internet.
(c) End user. Any individual or entity that uses a broadband Internet access service.
(d) Fixed broadband Internet access service. A broadband Internet access service that serves end users primarily at fixed endpoints using stationary equipment. Fixed broadband Internet access service includes fixed wireless services (including fixed unlicensed wireless services), and fixed satellite services.
(e) Mobile broadband Internet access service. A broadband Internet access service that serves end users primarily using mobile stations.
(f) Reasonable network management. A network management practice is a practice that has a primarily technical network management justification, but does not include other business practices. A network management practice is reasonable if it is primarily used for and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband Internet access service.
§ 8.5 No blocking.
A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.
§ 8.7 No throttling.
A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service, or use of a non-harmful device, subject to reasonable network management.
§ 8.9 No paid prioritization.
(a) A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not engage in paid prioritization.
(b) “Paid prioritization” refers to the management of a broadband provider’s network to directly or indirectly favor some traffic over other traffic, including through use of techniques such as traffic shaping, prioritization, resource reservation, or other forms of preferential traffic management, either (a) in exchange for consideration (monetary or otherwise) from a third party, or (b) to benefit an affiliated entity.
(c) The Commission may waive the ban on paid prioritization only if the petitioner demonstrates that the practice would provide some significant public interest benefit and would not harm the open nature of the Internet.
§ 8.11 No unreasonable interference or unreasonable disadvantage standard for Internet conduct.
Any person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage (i) end users’ ability to select, access, and use broadband Internet access service or the lawful Internet content, applications, services, or devices of their choice, or (ii) edge providers’ ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to end users. Reasonable network management shall not be considered a violation of this rule.
This is not nearly the gloom and doom that was predicted by those opposed to the FCC action.