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[Discussion] FCC Eyes Return to Net Neutrality: A Renewed Era of Equal Internet Access

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ushered in significant revelations, proposing a reincarnation of the net neutrality rules, a stark reversal from the policies of the Trump era. This potential resurgence could be monumental for the sanctity of the internet and its millions of users.

Return to Open Internet Regulations

In a pivot towards restoring balance and equality in internet access, the FCC disclosed plans to re-establish the Obama-era net neutrality regulations, a set of rules abrogated under the previous administration in April 2018. Initially introduced in 2015, these regulations were fundamental in constraining major internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon from discriminatory practices such as throttling, blocking, or charging premiums for expedited access to specific websites.

Under this regulatory framework, ISPs were designated as "common carriers," ensuring a leveled playing field, under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. However, this notion was short-lived, and the erasure of these rules marked a contentious chapter in the ongoing battle for an open internet.

Democratic Revival and International Security

With Democrats recently gaining majority control over the FCC, a new dawn seems to be on the horizon for net neutrality under the Biden Administration. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, in her address, asserted that the decision to repeal the regulations had positioned the agency contrary to public interest, historical precedence, and legal foundations. "Today we begin a process to make this right," she declared, signaling a commitment to reinstating a semblance of internet egalitarianism.

The proposed rule set mirrors the one instituted in 2015, accentuating the vital role of internet providers as essential telecommunications entities. However, an enhancement to the previous regulations has been elucidated by an FCC official, who highlighted the augmented authority of the FCC to thwart the authorization of websites under foreign adversaries’ influence, citing national security imperatives. Rosenworcel conveyed, "This is a national security loophole that needs to be addressed.”

Path to Restoration

The road to fully restored net neutrality is paved with numerous votes and extensive deliberations. Chairwoman Rosenworcel has called for an initial vote on October 19, post which further votes and extensive commentaries will ensue, signaling that the journey toward complete restoration of net neutrality may still have considerable ground to cover.

The FCC’s endeavor to revivify net neutrality encapsulates the broader narrative of equitable and unbiased internet access, and its outcome could be pivotal in determining the future landscape of internet usage and accessibility across the nation. The nation, ever so reliant on the digital sphere, watches as the tides may turn once again towards a more inclusive and fair internet ecosystem.

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