The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved new net neutrality rules for internet service providers. After its previous rules were struck down twice, the regulator proposed new, tougher rules, drawing on the existing regulation of fixed telephony and backing from U.S. President Barack Obama. The new order reclassifies internet access as a telecommunications service, as defined under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. This gives the FCC greater authority to regulate internet providers. The new rules also ban paid prioritization, in which a service provider can pay the network operator for preferred access to end users. They also prohibit the blocking of lawful content and throttling of services. These rules will also apply to internet services over mobile networks. The FCC’s authority is extended to interconnection agreements between network and content providers, allowing it to hear complaints and settle disputes.
The announcement by the FCC also prompted statements from a wide range of industry players, most of which were opposed to the plan for stricter regulation of internet services. While operators such as Verizon say the rules will create uncertainty about network investments and innovation in the industry, others like Netflix were more supportive, saying that the approval of the rules is a “clear win for consumers.”