Wednesday, October 04, 2023

A Reader on Net Neutrality and Restoring Internet Freedom: A Relevant Book for 2023

On September 28, the FCC released a draft proposed notice of rulemaking that would reclassify broadband Internet services as a "telecommunications service" under Title II of the Communications Act and reimpose every or near every aspect of the repealed 2015 Title II Order. At its upcoming October 19 public meeting, the full Commission will vote on whether to approve the draft and issue the proposed rulemaking for public comment. Free State Foundation President Randolph May offered his initial reaction to the anticipated release of the draft in a September 26 press release.  

In 2017, the Free State Foundation filed initial comments and reply comments in the Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding that led to the Commission's repeal of the Title II Order and return to broadband Internet access services as an "information service" under Title I of the Communications Act. (Additionally, FSF filed comments in April 2020 in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order remand proceeding.)


The draft proposed rulemaking in the new Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet proceeding amounts to an effectively wholesale return to the Title II Order, premised largely upon the same premises upon which the Title II Order was adopted. The draft presents the same issues of serious concerns regarding rate regulation, vague general conduct standard, harm to innovation in paid prioritization agreements that could benefit consumers, and more that several Free State Foundation scholars addressed in the FSF Press's 2018 book A Reader on Net Neutrality and Restoring Internet Freedom, edited and with an introduction by FSF President Randolph May and I. The chapters in that book – which defend the market-oriented light-touch regulatory approach to broadband under the RIF Order and identify problems with public utility regulation of broadband Internet services under the Title II Order – remain extremely relevant in 2023. 

Copies of A Reader on Net Neutrality and Restoring Internet Freedom are still available for purchase at outlets such as Amazon and Barnes & NobleThe book is recommended reading for anyone who wants a refresher on the policy debate over net neutrality regulation or who are new to the debate and want to be brought up to speed.

Expect FSF scholars to say more in the days ahead about the Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet proceeding and FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel's draft proposal to reimpose public utility regulation on broadband services.