The FCC is Restoring Net Neutrality After 7 Years

In a 3-2 decision, the United States Federal Communications Commission votes to restore net neutrality rules that were repealed in 2017.

The FCC is Restoring Net Neutrality After 7 Years

Highlights

  • The US Federal Communications Commission restored net neutrality rules that were repealed in 2017 by a 3-2 vote.
  • In addition to restoring Obama administration guidelines for net neutrality, a new rule was added to allow the FCC to de-authorize foreign entities deemed a security threat.
  • This comes after President Joe Biden signed a bill banning TikTok unless it is sold or divested from parent company ByteDance.

On April 25, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it had voted by a margin of 3-2 to restore net neutrality rules that were repealed in 2017 by the Trump administration. This means that internet service providers (ISPs) in the United States will be reclassified by the FCC as common carriers, in a move similar to how net neutrality was handled by the Obama administration in 2015.

The news of net neutrality restoration came three years after the Biden administration announced its efforts to bring it back to the United States. In short, net neutrality regulations prevent ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast from throttling or prioritizing specific websites or apps without a court order. The Obama administration acted to classify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act in 2015. However, the move was reversed in 2017, when the Trump administration and then-FCC chair Ajit Pai reclassified ISOs as Title I information services. This prompted states like California to draft their own net neutrality laws in response to the repeal. While initially challenged by the FCC under Pai, the Biden administration dropped the California challenge in 2021.

However, after seven years, net neutrality is back at the federal level. Following a 3-2 vote, FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel stated in an FCC press release that the new rules would ensure the Commission would hold ISPs to a narrowly tailored standard and allow innovation. The FCC said that the new rules would restore Obama administration guidelines and allow the FCC to monitor ISP outages and take action if needed. However, a new rule was added that would allow the FCC to revoke the authorizations of foreign-owned entities that could pose a national security threat and cited section 214 of the Communications Act. However, ISP price regulations were not among the guidelines passed.

The FCC Reinstates Net Neutrality Rules In the US

  • The measure passed by a 3-2 margin.
  • Net neutrality rules from the Obama administration were restored after the 2017 repeal.
  • A new rule allows the FCC to de-authorize foreign-owned entities deemed a security threat.

The news of net neutrality restoration came amid a busy week for the Biden administration. On Tuesday, April 23, President Joe Biden signed a bill that included a ban on TikTok in the United States, unless it was divested from ByteDance. The bill was initially passed by the US House of Representatives on March 13, which garnered overwhelming bipartisan support. On April 20, an amended bill was passed that allowed ByteDance to sell or divest TikTok within 270 days, or by January 18, 2025.

It remains to be seen whether ByteDance will comply and divest TikTok, or pull out of doing business in the United States. Nevertheless, with the return of net neutrality in the United States, gamers can be assured that their online sessions cannot be lawfully throttled under the new rules.

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