Free State Foundation: FCC’s Net Neutrality Regs Ignore Big Tech Censorship

Jan 17, 2024

By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband

Washington, D.C., Jan.17, 2024 – Proposed Net Neutrality regulations are aimed exclusively at Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – companies like AT&T and Comcast.

And that’s a major flaw in the Federal Communications Commission's approach to securing an open Internet, according to the Free State Foundation (FSF), a Maryland-based think tank.

“The [FCC’s] proposed rulemaking will not secure Internet openness because it is looking in the wrong place,” Free State said, adding that “Big Tech platforms and other online edge providers … actively censor, shadow ban, and deprioritize speech content.”

The FCC rules would classify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as common carriers that would be barred from blocking and throttling online content. The rules would also ban ISPs from accepting payment in exchange for prioritized treatment of content.

None of the proposed regulations – which are expected to be adopted in 2024 – would apply to edge content providers like Apple, Google, Facebook or Microsoft.

FSF, in comments filed with the FCC today, said the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules are premised on bad-actor conduct by ISPs that has been poorly documented in the record.

By contrast, FSF endorsed comments by a telecom trade association that pointed to questionable actions taken by some Big Tech firms.

“Indeed, while the [FCC's proposal] lacks any examples of ISPs engaging in blocking or throttling, social media companies have reportedly been caught throttling user-posted links to other, competing platforms,” FSF said.

FSF also said the Biden Administration has expressed concern about Big Tech actions that could restrict Internet openness and innovation, but the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules would fail to reach the practices being scrutinized by the White House.