FCC’s Rollback of Net-Neutrality Rules Won’t Settle the Divisive Issue

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Although the Federal Communications Commission is expected to adopt FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's new net neutrality proposal in December 2017, that won’t end a debate that’s roiled the tech world for years. Aggrieved parties will try to save the regulations in federal court, where judges will decide whether the agency is within its rights to reverse a regulation it adopted little more than two years ago. Legally, the agency can reverse its rules if it has a good reason. “You can change your mind so long as you justify it and explain why the policy has changed,” said Christopher Yoo, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Gigi Sohn, who helped write the current rules as an FCC aide, said the case will turn on whether consumers view their broadband internet access as some type of bundled service, replete with email and spam filters, or as “as a big dumb pipe.” If it’s a dumb pipe, internet access is clearly a telecommunications service and the 2015 rules should stand, said Sohn. Chairman Pai “is going to have to show that two-and-a-half years later people changed their mind, and that now they want want more -- that they’re looking for some bundle of services,” Sohn said in an interview. "That’s going to be tough for him to show."

“Our current net neutrality rules are the product of a decade’s worth of work and three trips to the court. They are court-tested and wildly popular,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “To wipe them out now is foolhardy and short-sighted.”


FCC’s Rollback of Net-Neutrality Rules Won’t Settle the Divisive Issue