Net neutrality has been the most discussed technology policy issue of the last 15 years.
The FCC’s light touch rules adopted in 2015 seemed to settle the issue.
However, net neutrality is back as a policy battle following FCC Chairman Pai’s decision to proceed with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would reexamine the existing rules.
While this may be good news for those in Washington who like a good policy battle, it is bad news for consumers, companies, and innovators around the country who simply want assurances in the form of clear baseline rules allowing internet users to continue to enjoy the unfettered ability to access the lawful content of their choice.
As the net neutrality debate unfolds over the coming months, it is important to recognize the broad consensus in favor of a free and open internet that affords consumers unfettered access to the lawful content and applications of their choice, on the device of their choice.
Consider these statements in which opponents of the FCC’s 2015 rules endorse net neutrality:
“Net neutrality is the basic principle of a free and open internet. It means an online world in which consumers can access the lawful content of their choice, and that there aren’t any gatekeepers deciding what points of the internet they can or can’t access. ... I believe strongly in a free and open internet, not just as a regulator but as a consumer. And if you look at how the internet has developed over the last 20 years, I think part of the reason why we have the digital economy that’s the envy of the world ... it’s precisely because we’ve had a free and open internet that’s benefited everybody in the internet ecosystem.” - FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
“[W]e . . . strongly support a free and open internet and the preservation of modern, strong, and legally enforceable net neutrality protections. We don’t block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content delivered over the internet, and we are committed to continuing to manage our business and network with the goal of providing the best possible consumer experience.” - Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast Corp.
“Verizon supports net neutrality. We’ve long said that our customers should be able to access internet content and services of their choice. That’s been our belief for many years and nothing has changed. Most importantly, it is what our customers want, and it is vital to the success of our business.” - Kathy Grillo, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Verizon
“The core of net neutrality has never really been controversial. … No one wants broadband providers blocking or throttling traffic.” - Berin Szóka, President, TechFreedom, and longtime critic of net neutrality rules
This paper shows that contrary to arguments by net neutrality opponents, the 2015 net neutrality rules have been working well - providing assurances to consumers and innovators, with no significant harm to broadband providers with respect to negative impact of investment, capacity, or demand.
This paper also explains, from a first principles perspective, the net neutrality rules required to protect consumers and preserve the virtuous circle of innovation.
Finally, this paper discusses the need for effective enforcement of net neutrality rules, including the need for the FCC to retain oversight over enforcement of net neutrality rules.