FCC releases final draft of ‘Restoring Internet Freedom,’ which would not do that

The FCC yesterday announced a December 14 vote on “Restoring Internet Freedom,” an order that, far from restoring freedom to the internet, which is already free, would allow it to be restricted in new and harmful ways. Actually, when you think of it as restoring internet freedom to ISPs and cable companies, it makes a lot more sense. At any rate the Commission has released the text of the order ahead of the vote, as promised.

It was just put out half an hour ago and it’s about 200 pages long, so it’ll take some time for me and others to sift through it and find out what kind of changes have been made since the draft circulated in late summer.

Although an FCC representative yesterday said that “we addressed all the serious comments,” that can’t quite be true, since the core of the order is still intact: remove broadband’s telecommunications designation, removing the statutory authority for the 2015 rules (Title II of the Communications Act), and returning to a “light touch” regulatory framework under which ISPs will be permitted within reason to throttle and prioritize traffic. Lots of other little presents for the telecoms in there, too.

There will be some new information in this revised draft, however: the wording of its highly questionable definition of broadband as an information service could figure into its legal future, for instance, as would any indication of plans to preempt state regulations, which those states may not agree with.

Any substantive changes will be documented in a future article after we’ve had a change to look over the full text and confer with experts.