FCC proposes requiring broadband “nutrition labels”; Comments due March 9 – Privacy

United States: FCC proposes requiring broadband “nutrition labels”; Comments due March 9

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On January 27, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would require Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) to display labels disclosing certain service information, including pricing, introductory rates, data allowances, broadband speeds, and network management practices. Notably, the NPRM proposes to adopt, with some modifications, the labels developed by an advisory committee and published by the Commission in a 2016 public notice.

The proposed labels in the NPRM build on work done under the 2015 Open Internet Order under the Obama administration. The Open Internet Order of 2015 required the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee to propose a format for consumer broadband labels that would function as a safe harbor for broadband providers by complying with transparency requirements “enhanced” of the order. The FCC adopted a format for the labels in the 2016 public notice, but when the FCC rolled back Obama-era net neutrality regulations in 2017, it eliminated improvements to the transparency rule and so there was little incentive to use the label. However, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Biden signed into law in November 2021 specifically directed the FCC to enact regulations requiring the display of broadband consumer labels “as described in” the 2016 public notice.

In the NPRM, the FCC proposes to adopt the label format provided in the 2016 Public Notice with several changes, including the requirement that ISPs specify whether the prices offered reflect introductory prices, inform consumers of availability and pricing of bundled services and include registration information. in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The NPRM is also seeking comments on whether ISPs should be required to notify current customers if a label changes, where labels should be located, accessibility of labels, whether labels should have impact or fully satisfy the FCC’s existing Transparency Rule, how the FCC should enforce the requirements, and the timeline for implementation.

The NPRM represents the first action the FCC has taken on net neutrality since the start of the Biden administration. More meaningful action on net neutrality will most likely continue to wait until there is a Democratic majority on the Commission, which currently has an even number of Democrats and Republicans. Without a Democratic majority, the FCC lacks the support needed for broader initiatives, such as reinstating Obama-era net neutrality rules and/or classifying broadband as a “Title II” regulated service. .

The deadline for submitting comments on the NPRM is March 9, 2022.

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