FCC revives net neutrality rules, sparking legal challenges and political debate

The decision, supported by the Democratic-majority commission, has reignited a longstanding political and legal battle, with cable and telecom operators preparing to mount a legal challenge.

 American Flag, Flag, Blackboard

The Democratic-majority FCC, led by Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, voted to adopt an order titled ‘Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet.’ The order largely reinstates the net neutrality rules established under the Obama administration in 2015, which were later overturned in 2017. It prohibits Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking or throttling access to content.

Rosenworcel argues that these rules are essential to keep the internet ‘fast, open, and fair,’ emphasising that reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act increases the FCC’s regulatory authority. However, it will not involve rate regulation or undermine investment incentives.

This decision has reignited a longstanding political and legal battle over internet regulation. Cable and telecom operators are expected to challenge the order legally, claiming it represents heavy-handed regulation and could stifle innovation and investment.

Why does it matter?

A group of 41 Republican lawmakers has challenged the FCC’s decision to vote on the matter, arguing that it exceeds the agency’s authority by treating broadband like a utility without explicit Congressional approval. They contend that only Congress has the power to impose such regulations. Despite this opposition, historical legal precedents from the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals support the FCC’s authority to regulate broadband under Title II.