The Federal Communications Commission voted in favor of “net neutrality” on December 21. The policy seeks to ensure that consumers and innovators do not have to seek permission from Internet service providers before launching new technologies, starting businesses, connecting with friends, or sharing views online.
When net neutrality goes into effect next year, it will also mean broadband providers will be forced to publicly disclose network management practices. High-speed Internet providers will also be restricted from blocking Internet content and applications, and they will be barred from engaging in unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic.
The FCC’s three Democratic members voted in favor of the decision. Both Republican members voted against it. Many Republican lawmakers have criticized the decision, saying it will stifle innovation, while some Democrats have said the regulation doesn’t go far enough. President Obama supported the decision.
The ruling will also require ISPs to disclose accurate information about network management practices, performance and commercial terms of their broadband Internet access services. It will also require ISPs to ensure that consumers have enough information to make informed choices about the use of such services and for content, application, service and device providers to develop, market and maintain Internet offerings.
The ruling is expected to be challenged in court and by legislators.