FCC plans vote to resurrect net neutrality next month


April 3 (UPI) -- The Federal Communications Commission has scheduled a vote to reinstate net neutrality oversight by the FCC and prevent online services providers from favoring some users over others.

The vote is slated for the April 25 FCC meeting and would impose a national standard for broadband reliability, consumer protection and security, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced Wednesday.

"The pandemic proved once and for all that broadband is essential," Rosenworcel said in a statement posted on the FCC's website. "A return to the FCC's overwhelmingly popular and court-approved standard of net neutrality will allow the agency to serve ... as a strong consumer advocate of an open internet."

Rosenworcel said President Donald Trump's administration abdicated federal authority regarding broadband services by canceling federal net neutrality oversight, which made it difficult for the FCC to "secure broadband networks, protect consumer data and ensure the internet remains fast,open and fair."

If reinstated, the FCC says its net neutrality oversight would regulate "pay-to-play Internet fast lanes," help restore broadband outages and improve digital security when using broadband services.

The FCC also says it would increase protection for consumers by stopping broadband services providers from selling users' location data and other sensitive information, while creating a national standard for broadband oversight.

States currently have broadband regulatory oversight, but a national standard is needed to keep the internet "fast, open and safe," FCC officials said.

The FCC in October voted 3-2 to move forward with the net neutrality proposals that the commission first adopted in 2015 but were repealed in 2018, Roll Call reported.

At least one opponent to the proposal says reinstating net neutrality runs counter to President Joe Biden's call for an "Internet for all," The Hill reported.

"Just as this goal is now within reach, the FCC is pumping the brakes with this entirely counterproductive, unnecessary and anti-consumer regulatory distraction," USTelecom president and CEO Jonathan Spalter told The Hill.

House Democrats proposed the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act in July 2022, which would have used Title II of the Communications Act to put the FCC in charge of broadband oversight. The measure was not passed.

President Joe Biden in 2021 signed an order directing the FCC to re-establish the federal net neutrality oversight.

Nonprofit Common Cause said the lack of federal regulation enabled broadband service providers to target successful video streaming services by degrading video quality and forcing people to pay for better access.

The lack of federal oversight also supports monopolistic plans that favor broadband services providers over competing services, Common Cause says.