WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. communications regulators adopted Internet traffic rules yesterday that prevent providers from blocking lawful content but still let them ration access to their networks.
The Federal Communications Commission approved the “Open Internet” order after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan got the support of fellow Democrats Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn.
The rules aim to strike a balance between the interests of Internet service providers, content companies and consumers, but some industry analysts think a court challenge is still likely.
At issue is whether regulators need to guarantee that all stakeholders continue to have reasonable access to the Internet, a principle often called “net neutrality,” or whether the Internet is best left to flourish unregulated.
The FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet has been in doubt since an appeals court in April said the agency lacked the authority to stop cable company Comcast Corp from blocking bandwidth-hogging applications.
Senior FCC officials have said they will invoke new legal arguments not employed in the Comcast case.
The two Republican commissioners at the agency opposed the latest rule-making effort, saying it was unnecessary and would stifle innovation. Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker told an FCC open meeting that they believed the rules would fail in court.