FCC aims to reinstate net neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission, now with a Democratic majority, aims to reinstate net neutrality rules that would stop internet service providers playing favorites with traffic, charging more to certain users, or censoring material that displeases them.

The proposed rules from the Federal Communications Commission will designate internet service — both the wired kind found in homes and businesses as well as mobile data on cellphones — as "essential telecommunications" akin to traditional telephone services, according to multiple people familiar with the plan. The rules would ban internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or slowing down access to websites and online content, the people told CNN. Bloomberg was first to report the news. … In addition to the prohibitions on blocking and throttling internet traffic, the draft rules also seek to prevent ISPs from selectively speeding up service to favored websites or to those that agree to pay extra fees, the people added, a move designed to prevent the emergence of "fast lanes" on the web that could give some websites a paid advantage over others.

Net neutrality made the internet and the web possible, by providing businesses and users alike with the same access to the new technology and the markets created by it. Telcos are now eager to take it away so they can sell priority access and control usage, while big tech has vacillated: the end of neutrality secures their markets and makes it more difficult for internet startups to compete with them, but leaves them at the mercy of ISPs.

The FCC will vote Oct. 19 on whether to solicit public feedback, a necessary step before voting on the rules themselves.