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Tech: The government proposed new rules that would let internet providers block apps

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The FCC is looking to reverse a 2015 ruling classifying the internet as a utility, which is opposed by ISPs but supported by net neutrality advocates.

The FCC will vote on a new rule December 14 that will repeal net neutrality regulations put in place in 2015.
The full text of the draft order was released on Wednesday.

It includes several major changes which allow ISPs to create so-called "fast lanes," block apps and services, and it also proposes giving some oversight responsibilities to the FTC.


The FCC, led by chairman Ajit Pai, released the final draft of a closely-watched plan on Wednesday to reverse a net neutrality policy enacted in 2015 which banned the blocking or slowing down of web content.


Net neutrality is the concept that all internet traffic should be treated equally, no matter what internet service provider is carrying it.


Pai's order, named "Restoring Internet Freedom," would reverse a 2015 ruling that classifies internet service providers as if they were utilities, which is opposed by ISPs but supported by net neutrality advocates, who say pro-net neutrality policies encourage innovation.


The main difference from existing policy in Pai's proposed order is that broadband internet access would be classified under Title I of the Communications Act, reversing the 2015 ruling which classified broadband providers under Title II — basically, calling ISPs "information services" instead of "public utilities."


This seemingly small change could allow ISPs like Comcast and Verizon legally experiment with so-called "fast lanes" for internet traffic, where some apps and services are prioritized over others. Theoretically, under these rules, ISPs could prioritize its own traffic or even block certain apps or services.


Another key change is that the proposal gives significant additional authority to the Federal Trade Commission. From the draft order:

"Our balanced approach also restores the authority of the nation's most experienced cop on the privacy beat — the Federal Trade Commission — to police the privacy practices of Internet Service Providers."


The draft order will be voted on at the FCC's December 14th meeting.


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