Nonprofit software maker Mozilla entered the fray in the continuing fight over net neutrality protections for the Internet Monday, offering up a variation of an old proposal to re-regulate broadband lines under rules written for phone networks.
Mozilla says that the FCC shouldn’t look at an Internet line only as a relationship between an Internet provider and a subscriber. Regulators should formally recognize that there’s a third party involved: Content providers such as websites, apps, gaming and more, Mozilla says.
The company says delivery of Internet content should come under a new definition as a “remote delivery service” and should be subject to Title II of the Communications Act, which was written with old phone networks in mind. Mozilla’s petition focuses on the last mile of Internet traffic delivery. In other words, the FCC should reclassify (i.e. regulate) Internet lines under Title II:
Mozilla petitions the Federal Communications Commission to (i) recognize that the enabling of communications between a remote host and the local subscribers of an Internet service provider constitutes a delivery service provided by the network operator to that remote host; and (ii) declare such a service to be a telecommunications service subject to Title II of the Communications Act. This action will help preserve the future of technology innovation online, particularly for online video communications and smartphone applications and services.
Internet activists have pressed the FCC to reclassify, or re-regulate, Internet lines under Title II because it would give the FCC clearer authority to police bad behavior, like blocking sites or deliberately slowing traffic.
It’s not entirely clear why this proposal would meet with any less resistance from Internet providers like Comcast* or AT&T, which don’t want regulators sniffing around their networks more than they already do. They torpedoed the FCC’s last effort to re-regulate Internet networks under Title II four years ago, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said it’s not his preferred method for moving forward.
Mozilla, which has been active on net neutrality in the past, is hoping FCC officials will ask for public comments on the idea.
* Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit is an investor in Revere Digital, Re/code’s parent company.