U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel is strategically preparing to launch a substantial effort aimed at reintroducing vital net neutrality regulations that were revoked during the tenure of former President Donald Trump, as indicated by sources familiar with the matter. This initiative follows a recent shift in the majority control within the five-member FCC to the Democrats, marking the first such change since President Joe Biden assumed office in January 2021. This significant transition unfolded with the swearing-in of new FCC Commissioner Anna Gomez.
Looking ahead to an important development scheduled for October, the FCC is on the verge of conducting an initial vote on the proposed reinstatement of net neutrality. This upcoming move underscores the agency’s steadfast dedication to revisiting and potentially reinstating regulations that are designed to safeguard an open and equitable internet landscape. Under Chair Jessica Rosenworcel’s leadership, the FCC is poised to take a proactive stance in ensuring a level playing field and fostering a digital environment that promotes fairness and accessibility for all internet users. The anticipated vote represents a pivotal moment that could shape the future of net neutrality and its influence on the online ecosystem.
Jessica Rosenworcel’s Ongoing Commitment to Net Neutrality
In July 2021, President Biden underscored his commitment to net neutrality by signing an executive order urging the FCC to reestablish the net neutrality rules originally put in place during the tenure of Democratic then-President Barack Obama in 2015. The rules, aimed at preventing internet service providers from engaging in practices such as blocking or throttling traffic and establishing paid fast lanes, were overturned by the FCC in a 2017 vote. Notably, just days before the 2020 presidential election, the FCC reaffirmed its decision to maintain the repeal of these regulations.
In 2017, Jessica Rosenworcel vocally opposed the repeal, criticizing the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision as placing the organization “on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.” She expressed her concerns about the repeal, emphasizing the importance of upholding net neutrality principles.
Looking ahead, Rosenworcel is preparing to deliver a comprehensive speech to elucidate her future plans in this domain. Scheduled for Tuesday, this address is eagerly awaited, with the public and stakeholders keen to understand her vision and strategies regarding net neutrality.
The 9th Circuit’s Decision and Federal Policy Reversal
In 2022, a significant legal development occurred when a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled against the 2017 FCC decision to overturn federal net neutrality protections. The ruling underscored that the FCC’s decision did not prevent states from enacting their own laws. This decision rejected a challenge from major telecom and broad industry groups attempting to block California’s net neutrality law. Subsequently, these industry groups decided to withdraw from further legal challenges, signaling a shift in the legal landscape surrounding net neutrality.
Following a reclassification by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2017, internet services were newly categorized as information services, subjected to lighter regulation. This change shifted the commission’s authority, no longer permitting them to regulate in the previous manner when these services were designated as telecommunications services.
Shortly after President Biden assumed office, a significant legal shift transpired. The U.S. Justice Department, under the new administration, made a notable decision to withdraw its legal challenge against California’s state net neutrality law, a move contrasting the stance held during the Trump era. This shift reflected a changing approach towards net neutrality at the federal level, indicating a potential shift in regulatory outlook regarding internet services and their governance.