The "Open Internet" is the Internet as we know it. It's open because it uses free, publicly available standards that anyone can access and build to, and it treats all traffic that flows across the network in roughly the same way. The principle of the Open Internet is sometimes referred to as "net neutrality." Under this principle, consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what lawful content they want to access, create, or share with others. This openness promotes competition and enables investment and innovation.
The Open Internet also makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to easily launch innovative applications and services, revolutionizing the way people communicate, participate, create, and do business—think of email, blogs, voice and video conferencing, streaming video, and online shopping. Once you're online, you don't have to ask permission or pay tolls to broadband providers to reach others on the network. If you develop an innovative new website, you don't have to get permission to share it with the world.
On December 23, 2010, the Commission released the Open Internet Order, which established high-level rules requiring transparency and prohibiting blocking and unreasonable discrimination to protect Internet openness. The FCC's rules were challenged in federal court, and on January 14, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the Commission's authority to regulate broadband Internet access service and upheld the Commission's judgment that Internet openness encourages broadband investment and that its absence could ultimately inhibit broadband deployment. The court upheld the transparency rule, but vacated the no-blocking and no-unreasonable-discrimination rules. The court also invited the FCC to act to preserve a free and open Internet
In response, the FCC on May 15 launched a rulemaking seeking public comment on how best to protect and promote an open Internet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking poses a broad range of questions to elicit the broadest range of input from everyone impacted by the Internet, from consumers and small businesses to providers and start-ups. The public is encouraged to comment in this proceeding at http://www.fcc.gov/comments.
The 2010 transparency rule remains in full force and effect, requiring broadband Internet access service providers to disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their broadband services. This rule helps consumers make informed choices about their broadband service, and it gives edge providers technical information that helps them develop their business plans and assess risks. If you think there has been a violation of the open Internet rules, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
Background, Documents and Other Resources
- FCC Launches Broad Rulemaking to Protect and Promote the Open Internet (5/15/14)
- Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
- Fact Sheet
- Statements: Chairman Wheeler | Commissioner Clyburn | Commissioner Rosenworcel | Commissioner Pai | Commissioner O'Rielly
- FCC Blog: Setting the Record Straight on the FCC's Open Internet Rules
- Open Internet Explainer
- Internet Growth and Investment Under the Open Internet Order
- Statements on the FCC's Open Internet Rules:
- Chairman Wheeler | Commissioner Clyburn | Commissioner Rosenworcel | Commissioner Pai | Commissioner O'Rielly
- Consumer Guide
- Archive of OpenInternet.gov [.zip file]