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article imageFCC, FTC detail what will happen if net neutrality gets repealed

By James Walker     Dec 13, 2017 in Technology
The FCC and FTC have published a draft agreement that outlines how the agencies will collaborate if net neutrality gets repealed. They will share jurisdiction of ISPs, with the FCC responsible for reviewing complaints. Both bodies will meet regularly.
FCC and FTC partnership
The FCC will vote tomorrow on a plan to replace net neutrality legislation with an "honour system" that does not directly outlaw prioritisation of Internet traffic. ISPs will be allowed to essentially regulate themselves. The FCC will no longer be responsible for ensuring ISPs stick to net neutrality principles.
In a memorandum of understanding published today, the two agencies outlined how the shared responsibility model will work. The FCC will be tasked with monitoring consumer complaints about broadband services. It will also have to ensure that any barriers to the broadband market are addressed, so new service providers can get established.
The FCC will have rudimentary powers to ensure broadband companies follow the new rules. They'll be obligated to inform you of any throttling or blocking activities used on their network. These activities won't themselves be illegal though, since providers can effectively choose which aspects of net neutrality to adhere to.
READ NEXT: Internet pioneers urge FCC to cancel net neutrality vote
The FTC will be able to take action against companies that don't adequately disclose activities that go against net neutrality. Opponents of the plan argue this won't be sufficient to safeguard the principles at stake. The FTC's ability to enforce net neutrality has been repeatedly questioned.
Its actual jurisdiction over Internet service providers is also unclear. Although reversing broadband's classification as a common carrier service would revert it to FTC oversight, it's possible the FTC's authority will soon be removed entirely. A court case being pushed by AT&T could allow ISPs that also operate common carrier phone services to avoid FTC regulation entirely.
Benefitting consumers
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai described the new plan as a "critical benefit" to consumers which will also increase competition and allow targeted action against "bad actors." The former Verizon lawyer said it will avoid regulation that he views as unnecessary while helping to protect the "free and open" Internet.
"The Memorandum of Understanding will be a critical benefit for online consumers because it outlines the robust process by which the FCC and FTC will safeguard the public interest," said Pai in the memorandum. "Instead of saddling the Internet with heavy-handed regulations, we will work together to take targeted action against bad actors. This approach protected a free and open Internet for many years prior to the FCC's 2015 Title II Order and it will once again following the adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order."
Earlier this week, over 20 Internet pioneers and inventors wrote to the FCC to request the vote on Thursday be postponed. They described the FCC's understanding of the Internet as "technically inaccurate," detailing a string of misunderstandings that the agency has made no attempt to address. Tomorrow's vote will be crucial for the future of the Internet but the FCC's still signalling no interest in responding to the criticism.
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