FCC's Wheeler Says That If These Lame Net Neutrality Rules Don't Work, He'll Implement The Real Rules Next Time

Mike Masnick | Tech Dirt | April 30, 2014

from the oh-really? dept

Following his weak attempt to diffuse concerns about his bogus "open internet" rules, FCC boss Tom Wheeler has decided to try again, by basically repeating what he said last week with slightly stronger language about how he won't let broadband providers violate net neutrality. Of course, as many people have explained, the problem is that the new rules clearly aren't strong enough, and leave open all sorts of ways to kill off basic neutrality online. Of course, the real problem is that the original 2010 "open internet" rules (which were really crafted by the telcos in the first place) didn't really protect net neutrality in the first place, and the new rules are basically an even weaker version of those rules. But, have no fear, claims Wheeler, if these rules don't work, he promises he'll actually pull out the big gun, Title II, and reclassify broadband players as telco services rather than information services, allowing the FCC to put them under common carrier rules.

...all regulatory options remain on the table. If the proposal before us now turns out to be insufficient or if we observe anyone taking advantage of the rule, I won’t hesitate to use Title II. However, unlike with Title II, we can use the court’s roadmap to implement Open Internet regulation now rather than endure additional years of litigation and delay.

There is some truth in what he's saying. Basically, the appeals court ruling that rejected the previous rules did lay out a roadmap for rules that would be deemed more acceptable under the current classification, and Wheeler's plans appear to be to do exactly what the court suggested. And, to some extent he's right that this is the fastest way to get some kind of rules in place. But considering that they're even more watered down than the original, with the new "required" language leaving enough loopholes to make them meaningless, it almost seems like why bother. The best we could hope for is that Wheeler is actually trying to use the Ed Felten-like concept of "the best form of net neutrality" being one where there aren't any actual rules, but a constant threat of rules being enforced if the broadband providers stray too far.