Verify: Comcast's spin on net neutrality

VERIFY – YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE’LL FIND ANSWERS
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THE QUESTION

Internet Service Providers like Verizon, Xfinity and Comcast all say they support net neutrality.

But they also support a proposal by the new head of the Federal Communications Commission to revisit those rules by pulling internet providers out of a strict part of the law originally made for phone companies called "Title II."

The biggest provider – Comcast -- likes that idea and claims in a statement that, “Getting rid of Title II does not mean that we are repealing net neutrality protections."

WHAT WE FOUND

That statement is misleading.

The FCC decided to police Internet Service Providers using Title II in January 2015. It made the classification change from information provider to common carrier after a Washington D.C. Circuit Court said that was the only way to enforce parts of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order.

The case is called Verizon Communications Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission.

In its decision, the court said the rules prohibiting things like slowing down or speeding up certain websites prevented companies from “making individualized decisions” about their businesses.

“Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such,” according to the decision.

What is a common carrier?

It’s a company that transports things from one place to another like the post office or a phone company.

The government has stricter rules for common carriers that include regulating how much they can charge people and whether they can treat customers differently.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and the telecommunications companies say designating ISP’s as common carriers stifles investment and innovation. They both want ISPs to go back to being classified as information providers.

As a solution to the net neutrality enforcement issue, Comcast suggested Congress change the law.

“Bipartisan legislation, as was envisioned back in 2010 by then Congressman Henry Waxman and Cliff Stearns, would solve both the authority issue and end the gamesmanship on the substance of net neutrality rules,” according to Comcast’s statement.

That’s possible, but net neutrality proponents question whether that’s probable in our current political climate. And until Congress changes the law, the FCC would lack the authority to block Internet Service Providers from controlling what you see and how fast you see it.

For more on the net neutrality debate:
Verify: What does Portugal have to do with U.S. dumping net neutrality?
What's at stake with the FCC's net neutrality vote

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