FCC Posts 400-Page Rulebook For Protecting Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today made available the full text of its Open Internet Order following the reclassification of broadband Internet as a utility in a recent 3-2 vote. It's a long read -- exactly 400 pages from start to finish, and it includes dissenting opinions from Republican commissioners. This is the first time the full text has been available for mass consumption.

Commissioners Ajit Pai and Micheal O'Rielly were the two biggest dissenters to the FCC's decision to reclassify the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Their opinions are spelled out in detail in the order, including 64 pages written by Pai and 16 pages by O'Rielly.

We're still in the process of digesting the mammoth document ourselves, though a quick skim reveals hundreds of rules of the Title II regulation that won't be applied. It was previously unknown exactly which rules of the more than 80-year-old Act would and would not apply, and it turns out the FCC will ignore over 700 of them.


The cherry-picking approach to which rules would be enforced was one of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's main arguments in reclassifying the Internet as such. Dissenters criticized the decision, saying it doesn't make sense to adopt rules on modern technology based on an Act from 1934, but Wheeler insisted the FCC would only apply the ones that make sense.

"Today, our forbearance approach results in over 700 codified rules being inapplicable, a 'light-touch' approach for the use of Title II. This includes no unbundling of last-mile facilities, no tariffing, no rate regulation, and no cost accounting rules, which results in a carefully tailored application of only those Title II provisions found to directly further the public interest in an open Internet and more, better, and open broadband," the document reads. "Nor will our actions result in the imposition of any new federal taxes or fees; the ability of states to impose fees on broadband is already limited by the congressional Internet tax moratorium."

As Wheeler has previous stated, the document notes that this is "Title II tailored for the 21st Century." That being the case, the focus is primarily on rules that prohibit blocking legal content, throttling Internet service, and offering paid prioritization, otherwise known as Internet fast lanes.

Grab yourself a drink, get comfortable, and give the document a read here.