Policy: Law

FCC won't appeal 'neutrality' ruling, instead will draft new Internet rules

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The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it won't appeal a court decision that struck down broadband Internet rules known as net neutrality and instead will draft a new set of regulations to ensure open access to the Web.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Wednesday his agency will write new rules barring Internet providers like Verizon or Time Warner from prioritizing its content and charging more for certain services or websites, forcing them to treat all Internet data equally.

"The Internet is and must remain the greatest engine of free expression, innovation, economic growth and opportunity the world has ever known," Wheeler said. "We must preserve and promote the Internet."

A federal court in January said the FCC doesn't have the authority to enforce its net neutrality rules because the agency -- initially set up to regulate communication in an era dominated by telephone and radio -- doesn't classify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service.

So instead of fighting the decision, Wheeler said the FCC will rewrite its rules that oversee the Internet. He stopped short of saying the agency will reclassify Internet service providers as a telecommunications service — a move that could create a maelstrom of lawsuits — but left open the possibility.

"The FCC must stand strongly behind its responsibility to oversee the public interest standard and ensure that the Internet remains open and fair," Wheeler said.

The agency is expected to announced its new rules later this year.

Many Republicans on Capitol Hill are opposed to net neutrality and applauded the court's ruling last month, saying the FCC had overstepped its authority and that its rules threatened to stifle a free flow of information on the Internet.

But Democrats worry that without proper oversight, Internet service providers will gouge customers with ever-increasing fees and charge video-heavy websites like Netflix more money for faster service.

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