According to their official blog, Mozilla has filed an official petition with the FCC to change how the relationships between ISPs and consumers, and ISP and content providers, are classified.
If the FCC chose to take Mozilla up on their advice, there would be two relationships cited. The first is that between the consumer and ISPs, which companies like Comcast/XFinity are currently using to dictate how they provide data. The second would create another legal requirement, however. ISPs and content providers would be in a separate relationship category, labeled under “transport”.
As they explain:
Categorizing remote delivery services as telecommunications services is consistent with the guidelines set by both Congress and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, and would give the FCC ample ability to adopt and enforce meaningful net neutrality. With clear authority and effective rules, ISPs would be prevented from blocking or discriminating against any edge provider, whether on a wireline or wireless network.
Would it work? That is difficult to say, because the issue itself is a complex and rather unprecedented one. The closest related case we have to look toward are telephone lines, also classified as transport, which are regulated differently than the internet currently is.
If the reclassification process does begin, and ISPs come under new guidelines based on being named part of a transport relationship, you can bet there will be a long fight ahead. Right now, providers think they have it made. And they do, thanks to the FCC’s toothless admonishments that make it obvious they are terrified of taking solid moves, in or out of court.
Were the government to start making real strides to cutting into the rampant profits of ISPs, especially given the monopolization creeping up in the US thanks to the XFinity/Time Warner merger, the legal battle would be intense.
Sadly, the likelihood of the FCC agreeing to this tactic is minimal, at the moment. If the outcome of the trial on net neutrality is any indication, the government has no interest in an open and free internet.
Are we surprised?