The FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which took effect on June 11, provides a framework for protecting an open Internet while paving the way for better, faster and cheaper Internet access for consumers. It replaces unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations that were developed way back in 1934 with strong consumer protections, increased transparency, and common-sense rules that will promote investment and broadband deployment. The FCC’s framework for protecting Internet freedom has three key parts:
- Consumer ProtectionThe Federal Trade Commission will police and take action against Internet service providers for anticompetitive acts or unfair and deceptive practices. The FTC is the nation’s premier consumer protection agency, and until the FCC stripped it of jurisdiction over Internet service providers in 2015, the FTC protected consumers consistently across the Internet economy.
- TransparencyA critical part of Internet openness involves Internet service providers being transparent about their business practices. That’s why the FCC has imposed enhanced transparency requirements. Internet service providers must publicly disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of service. These disclosures must be made via a publicly available, easily accessible company website or through the FCC’s website. This will discourage harmful practices and help regulators target any problematic conduct.
These disclosures also support innovation, investment, and competition by ensuring that entrepreneurs and other small businesses have the technical information necessary to create and maintain online content, applications, services, and devices.
- Removes Unnecessary Regulations to Promote Broadband InvestmentThe Internet wasn’t broken in 2015, when the previous FCC imposed 1930s-era regulations (known as “Title II”) on Internet service providers. And ironically, these regulations made things worse by limiting investment in high-speed networks and slowing broadband deployment. Under Title II, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6% — the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession. The effect was particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers—fixed wireless companies, small-town cable operators, municipal broadband providers, electric cooperatives, and others—that don’t have the resources or lawyers to navigate a thicket of complex rules. Removing these outdated and unnecessary regulations will create a strong incentive for companies to pour resources into building better online infrastructure across the country and bringing faster, better, and cheaper Internet access to more Americans.