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Open Internet Order of 2010

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

The Open Internet Order of 2010 is a set of rules proposed by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with the purpose of maintaining an open and neutral internet that supports free speech and generally treats all traffic as equal.

The order tries to strike a balance between freedom of expression and the concerns of providers, content creators and consumers. While they did not reclassify broadband Internet as a telecommunications service, the order was designed to regulate the service more rigorously like other telecommunications services, also known as common carriers.

Based on the principles of an open internet established by the FCC in 2005, the rules of the order include:

  • No unreasonable discrimination. Providers may not unreasonably discriminate against users for lawful traffic.
  • No blocking. The principles of fair selection and use should be allowed so long as these choices do not break the law or negatively affect the performance of the network.
  • Transparency. Service providers must clearly disclose network management practices, speeds and terms of use to consumers.

The FCC order was met with some controversy. Opposition by the service providers claimed that the FCC regulations were a threat to the open internet, while the FCC and supporters of the order argued that providers are the greatest threat to net neutrality.

In 2014, a U.S. federal appeals court struck down the rules banning reasonable discrimination and blocking after the industry mounted a challenge, while they upheld the rule of transparency. Since the broadband was never reclassified as a telecommunications service by the FCC, the court ruled that it was exempt from treatment as a common carrier.

This was last updated in April 2017

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