Tom Wheeler proposes regulating Internet access as a public utility

Tom Wheeler proposes regulating Internet access as a public utility

US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed that Internet access should be regulated by the government like a public utility; similar to the regulation of phone service and other public utilities. The proposal will be voted by the Congress at an open meeting scheduled to be held on February 26.

According to the FCC fact sheet released on February 4, the proposal put forth by Wheeler is essentially aimed at ensuring that the government has more power to oversee Internet service; so that the open Internet can be preserved and protected as a channel for innovation and free expression.

The proposal underscores the removal of Internet service providers (ISPs) as the main gatekeepers of the service, especially against the backdrop of the fact that the 'Net Neutrality' idea entails that ISPs shall not block legal content, applications, services or non-harmful devices.

Moreover, the FCC fact sheet also details that, with neutrality, ISPs shall not be allowed to engage in 'paid prioritization' where some lawful traffic is favored over equally lawful traffic in exchange for consideration or the so-called "fast lanes" or because it is profitable with their affiliates.

With regard to the proposal of regulating the Internet access as a public utility, Wheeler said in an op-ed for Wired: "The Internet must be fast, fair and open. That is the message I've heard from consumers and innovators across this nation. That is the principle that has enabled the Internet to become an unprecedented platform for innovation and human expression."

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