FCC Vote Means Smaller ISPs No Longer Bound by Net Neutrality Transparency Rules

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Internet service providers with fewer than 250,000 subscribers are no longer bound by the transparency rules imposed by the 2015 Title II net neutrality order after the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) adopted a new order on Thursday.

Carriers with less than 100,000 subscribers were already exempt from the rules, and the previous commission had acknowledged the number was open to revision when it was set.

The FCC is widely expected to roll back the Title II Order altogether at some point, though the new order is set to expire in five years, at which point if the Title II Order still stands, it will apply fully to smaller ISPs again. New FCC chairman Ajit Pai expressed opposition to the Title II classification of ISPs prior to taking the FCC helm.

See also: Three Things to Know About New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

The 250,000 subscriber exemption limit was set to accord with a similar bipartisan congressional proposal, though the proposal called for FCC reassessment in six months, The Verge reports.

The transparency rules removed required disclosure of information related to network performance, fees, and data caps. The FCC called the disclosures “onerous reporting obligations” and said that eliminating them freed carrier resources to be used for “operating, improving, and building out their networks.”

See also: Small Content Providers and E-Commerce Merchants Will Suffer if Net Neutrality is Abandoned

Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn dissented in the 2-1 vote, saying “In an ongoing quest to dismantle basic consumer protections for broadband services, the majority has decided to exempt billion dollar companies from being transparent with consumers,” according to The Verge.

With another measure, the FCC also eliminated the requirement for large carriers to keep a separate set of accounting books for regulatory purposes.

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