Former FCC Boss Wheeler Says New Court Ruling Won't Stop Net Neutrality

from the it-ain't-over-'til-it's-over dept

Obama’s first FCC boss Julius Genachowski was a bit of a wishy washy mess, supporting any number of conflicting ideas at any given time depending on the audience he was talking to. And while his second term pick, Tom Wheeler, initially raised eyebrows given his history of lobbying for early-era telecom companies, he wound up being one of the better FCC bosses in agency history. Granted telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast might disagree, since he was one of the only FCC bosses in recent history actually willing to stand up to them in any meaningful way.

Last week, a court (mostly) sided with the FCC in its repeal of Wheeler-era net neutrality rules. That said, the court also blocked FCC attempts to ban states from passing their own net neutrality rules, meaning the fight has simply shifted to the state level. In an overlooked piece over at the NY Times, Wheeler (who has been relatively quiet post tenure as his efforts are slowly demolished one by one in the Trump era) notes how ISPs will likely try to behave so long as the threat of state action remains:

“But the ruling did keep net neutrality alive ? by overruling the agency?s claim that it could pre-empt state governments from setting out their own net neutrality requirements. The decision opens the doors for states to fill the regulatory void. Internet service providers should be quaking in their boots: As of today, they run the serious risk that they?ll have to follow a patchwork of different state requirements. The companies may not have liked the previous administration?s decision to classify them as common carriers, but that at least provided them with a uniform national policy. That is now gone.”

ISPs really enjoy complaining (and will certainly be doing a lot more of it in the future) that they now have to adhere to a universe of state-level protections. But the reality is they created the problem by lobbying to kill pretty modest federal guidelines (using fraudulent data and bogus people, it should be noted). Now instead of a unified set of FCC rules (which didn’t even ban problematic behavior like the abuse of usage caps as a competitive weapon), they’ll have to adhere to tougher guidelines in states like California.

The FCC ban on state efforts was an integral part of Comcast/AT&T/Verizon’s dream of zero meaningful oversight and, without it, it’s not much of an actual victory, notes Wheeler’s former advisor Gigi Sohn:

As such, the court ruling leaves the door open to net neutrality in several ways. One, states can now jump in and protect consumers. Two, the court ruling made it clear the FCC was within its authority to both pass the 2015 rules and repeal them, meaning a future FCC can simply pass the same (or better) rules all over again. And while it’s unlikely under this current telecom-cash-slathered Congress, a future Congress could pass legislation (like the 3 page Save the Internet Act, which simply restores the FCC’s 2015 rules) that puts meaningful rules in place permanently.

In other words, it ain’t over until it’s over. And every survey in existence shows that US consumers want some kind of protections in place. Disdain for anti-competitive giants is bipartisan and fairly universal. Eventually big ISPs like Comcast and AT&T won’t be able to help themselves (AT&T’s already quietly pushing its luck on this front), and their behaviors will only lead to even more public support for meaningful open internet rules.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Former FCC Boss Wheeler Says New Court Ruling Won't Stop Net Neutrality”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
14 Comments

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

CrushU (profile) says:

This sounds familiar

Didn’t the whole thing start because AT&T tried to sue and the courts said that doesn’t work because the FCC doesn’t technically have the right authority, come back if you’re classified as Title II?

So basically this whole thing is a series of telecoms trying to pull fast ones and shooting themselves in the foot instead?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
09:32 AT&T Whines That California Net Neutrality Rules Are Forcing It To Behave (11)
06:23 The New York Times (Falsely) Informs Its 7 Million Readers Net Neutrality Is 'Pointless' (51)
15:34 Facebook's Australian News Ban Did Demonstrate The Evil Of Zero Rating (18)
04:58 'Net Neutrality Hurt Internet Infrastructure Investment' Is The Bad Faith Lie That Simply Won't Die (11)
05:48 Dumb New GOP Talking Point: If You Restore Net Neutrality, You HAVE To Kill Section 230. Just Because! (66)
06:31 DOJ Drops Ridiculous Trump-Era Lawsuit Against California For Passing Net Neutrality Rules (13)
06:27 The Wall Street Journal Kisses Big Telecom's Ass In Whiny Screed About 'Big Tech' (13)
10:45 New Interim FCC Boss Jessica Rosenworcel Will Likely Restore Net Neutrality, Just Not Yet (5)
15:30 Small Idaho ISP 'Punishes' Twitter And Facebook's 'Censorship' ... By Blocking Access To Them Entirely (81)
05:29 A Few Reminders Before The Tired Net Neutrality Debate Is Rekindled (13)
06:22 U.S. Broadband Speeds Jumped 90% in 2020. But No, It Had Nothing To Do With Killing Net Neutrality. (12)
12:10 FCC Ignores The Courts, Finalizes Facts-Optional Repeal Of Net Neutrality (19)
10:46 It's Opposite Day At The FCC: Rejects All Its Own Legal Arguments Against Net Neutrality To Claim It Can Be The Internet Speech Police (13)
12:05 Blatant Hypocrite Ajit Pai Decides To Move Forward With Bogus, Unconstitutional Rulemaking On Section 230 (178)
06:49 FCC's Pai Puts Final Bullet In Net Neutrality Ahead Of Potential Demotion (25)
06:31 The EU Makes It Clear That 'Zero Rating' Violates Net Neutrality (6)
06:22 DOJ Continues Its Quest To Kill Net Neutrality (And Consumer Protection In General) In California (11)
11:08 Hypocritical AT&T Makes A Mockery Of Itself; Says 230 Should Be Reformed For Real Net Neutrality (28)
06:20 Trump, Big Telecom Continue Quest To Ban States From Protecting Broadband Consumers (19)
06:11 Senators Wyden And Markey Make It Clear AT&T Is Violating Net Neutrality (13)
06:31 Net Neutrali-what? AT&T's New Streaming Service Won't Count Against Its Broadband Caps. But Netflix Will. (25)
06:23 Telecom's Latest Dumb Claim: The Internet Only Works During A Pandemic Because We Killed Net Neutrality (49)
13:36 Ex-FCC Staffer Says FCC Authority Given Up In Net Neutrality Repeal Sure Would Prove Handy In A Crisis (13)
06:27 Clarence Thomas Regrets Brand X Decision That Paved Way For The Net Neutrality Wars (11)
06:17 The FCC To Field More Comments On Net Neutrality. Maybe They'll Stop Identity Theft And Fraud This Time? (79)
08:56 AT&T, Comcast Dramatically Cut Network Spending Despite Net Neutrality Repeal (16)
06:18 Ajit Pai Hits CES... To Make Up Some Shit About Net Neutrality (24)
06:24 Mozilla, Consumer Groups Petition For Rehearing of Net Neutrality Case (22)
06:49 AT&T Exec Insists That No Broadband Company Is Violating Net Neutrality Even Though AT&T Is Absolutely Violating Net Neutrality (19)
06:45 Shocker: ISPs Cut Back 2020 Investment Despite Tax Breaks, Death Of Net Neutrality (61)
More arrow