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FCC To Propose New Rules On Internet Neutrality


The Federal Communications Commission tried to craft rules aimed at preserving Open Internet. Then last month, a federal appeals court struck down those rules. The FCC announced yesterday that it would not appeal the ruling, instead it will try to come up with a new set of rules.

NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: The FCC has tried to make sure that broadband providers treat all traffic on their networks equally. That would mean they can't block or slow access to the Internet or charge certain content companies - like say Netflix or Amazon - more for faster service.

The commission came up with rules four years ago, but they were overturned by an appeals court in Washington but said the FCC lacked the legal authority to enforce them.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says the agency will try again to come up with rules it can enforce. But Republican critics - including FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai - say the agency is meddling in the free market.

AJIT PAI: It reminds me a little bit about the movie "Groundhog Day" and I'm generally skeptical that this effort will end up any differently from the last one in 2010.

ROSE: Critics on the left aren't happy either. Craig Aaron is president of the non-profit consumer advocacy group Free Press. He and others say the FCC would have a stronger legal case if it moved to reclassify broadband under a tougher type of regulation faced by phone companies. Aaron is disappointed that the agency seems unwilling to take that step.

CRAIG AARON: I think it's a shortsighted decision that seems to be easier now, politically, but in the long run, really poses a lot of danger to the free and Open Internet.

ROSE: Big cable and telecom companies have made no secret that they would fight to avoid that kind of reclassification and they have powerful friends on Capitol Hill.

Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.