FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Computer History Museum

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today said the commission will take another shot at preventing abusive practices by ISPs after the commission’s Open Internet Order was vacated Tuesday by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The court struck down the order’s ban on traffic blocking and discrimination by Internet service providers because the FCC had not designated ISPs as common carriers.

If Internet service providers were treated as common carriers, they could be subjected to stricter regulations, similar to those applied to phone service, which ensure that everyone’s calls must go through and that all calls are treated equally. Verizon, which wants to charge content providers for prioritized access to its network, claimed that the FCC erred by imposing common carriage regulations on companies that are not considered common carriers. Verizon sued and won.
The FCC has the authority to reclassify ISPs as common carriers, but corporate and political opposition would make such a change difficult. Wheeler has not given any indication that he wants to reclassify ISPs, but he pointed to a bit of good news for the FCC in the court ruling.
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