Ever see the movie Groundhog Day? Sometimes Washington feels a little like that. Case in point: the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today announced its intent to move forward with a net neutrality rulemaking proceeding via a statement from Chairman Tom Wheeler. We’ve seen this movie before, but now we’re gearing up for the sequel.
Déjà vu aside, this is a significant development. On January 14, 2014, a federal appeals court threw out the FCC’s Open Internet Order meant to preserve a level online playing field for creators and other entrepreneurs. Since then, we’ve been waiting to see what Chairman Wheeler’s next move might be. Today, we have our answer.
In a nutshell, Wheeler’s plan involves a public comments proceeding, followed by an expected rulemaking under a different legal rationale than the one the court rejected. Wheeler seems confident that the Commission can issue new rules based on its existing Congressional mandate to “encourage broadband deployment by, among other things, removing barriers to infrastructure deployment, encouraging innovation, and promoting competition.” Others, FMC included, are concerned that this approach may not be the clearest way to protect an open, accessible internet.
That said, we are glad that the FCC is moving forward. And we’re always ready to weigh in along with our friends in the independent music community (including the thousands of artists and indie labels already on record supporting basic rules of the road for Internet Service Providers).
As FMC Interim Executive Director Casey Rae noted in a press statement: