The return of net neutrality

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The move brings broadband under the purview of the FCC by classifying it as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act.

“Four years ago, the pandemic changed life as we know it,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said at Thursday’s commission meeting. “We were told to stay home, hunker down and live online. So much of work, school and healthcare migrated to the internet. If we wanted to engage with the world, we needed to do it all through a broadband connection.”

“It became clear that no matter who you are or where you live, you need broadband to have a fair shot at digital age success,” she continued. “It went from nice-to-have to need-to-have for everyone, everywhere. Broadband is now an essential service. Essential services — the ones we count on in every aspect of modern life — have some basic oversight.”


Net neutrality rules, initially passed during the Obama administration in 2015, were rolled back under former President Trump in 2017.   

The agency under President Biden voted to move forward with the process of restoring net neutrality rules last October, after securing a Democratic majority following a two-year holdup over a previous nominee. 

“I think in a modern digital economy, we should have a national net neutrality policy and make clear the nation’s expert on communications has the ability to act when it comes to broadband,” Rosenworcel added. “This is good for consumers, good for public safety and good for national security.” 

However, Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr, who voted against the measure, argued Thursday that the agency “offers up a laundry list of bogus justifications” for bringing broadband service under Title II. 


“Today’s order is not about net neutrality,” Carr said. “When we abandoned Title II in 2017, proponents of greater government control flooded the zone with apocalyptic rhetoric. Media outlets and politicians alike mindlessly parroted their claims.”

“They predicted the end of the internet as we know it and that you’ll get the internet one word at a time. Consumers would have to pay for each website they wanted to reach,” he continued. “None of that happened. Americans were subjected to one of the greatest hoaxes in regulatory history.” 

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