The FCC Hasn’t Decided How It Will Enforce Net Neutrality

This morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indicated in a blog post that it is “reviewing” a number of legal methods concerning how to enforce new net neutrality rules.

The implication is plain: No choice has been made. The FCC claims that it is “looking ahead” to more round tables that could help shed light on which method is best. The agency noted several proposals, including AOL’s (AOL owns TechCrunch, hi boss!), the Tim Wu proposal, and Mozilla’s ideas.

I’ve been asking around the past week to try to turn up information on which direction the FCC is leaning, be it 706, Title II, or a blend of the two. I’ve gotten back a tidal wave of shrugs. Now we know why: No one knows what the FCC wants to do, because the FCC doesn’t know what the FCC wants to do.

I am not saying that the FCC is late or anything like that. It’s instead merely important to note that in the immediate wake of the public comment period, the agency is still in fact-finding mode.

Here’s the government group’s dismount:

A cross-bureau group of staff are reviewing these options as well as others in the record.  The robust discussion will continue in the weeks ahead, including in our last Open Internet Roundtable on October 7 that will specifically focus on theories of legal authority and the legal basis for the construction of Open Internet rules.

A quick decision this will not be.

Thinking positively, that fact might help the FCC make the proper choice. Or, it could allow time for the FCC to talk itself into a weaker set of regulations.

In related news, the National Journal recently published a article arguing that the current split of opinion among the FCC’s commissioners could lead to a stronger final net neutrality result. In short, because the two Republican commissioners are steadfastly opposed to net neutrality as a concept, Chairman Wheeler has to win the votes of the two Democratic commissioners or he can’t pass the damn thing.

If net neutrality passes, it will be on a 3-2 vote. This gives the two Democratic commissioners leverage over Wheeler. If you are philosophically aligned with sterner regulations on the matter, smile.