Week in tech: Internet rules slated to take effect

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules are slated to take effect on Friday.

But the regulations, approved in February by a 3-2 vote, are still not out of the woods. Telecom companies are hoping for a decision any day from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on their request to delay the rules before they are implemented. Trade groups have sued to kill the FCC's order and want the regulations delayed until a final decision is reached. 

Those companies have said that if the rules go into place, the regulations could tie Internet service providers up in court and at the FCC with consumer complaints that could cause irreparable harm. 

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the commission are confident the rules will survive a court challenge, but both sides have asked for an expedited final ruling. If that is granted, a decision could be handed down early next year.

Officials with the commission have said the benefits of the rules will not be immediately apparent to the average consumer. They are targeted more at protecting them against harm going forward.

The rules, which reclassify broadband Internet service under the authority governing traditional telephones, are meant to keep Internet providers from prioritizing some types of traffic over others.

Elsewhere, on Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission will host a workshop to look at the “on-demand economy,” businesses that create ways to share resources such as rides or living space. Officials will focus on how regulation can accommodate businesses like Uber and Airbnb while still protecting consumers. There will be panels featuring industry representatives and academics.

The workshop is the latest effort in Washington to tackle the regulatory challenges posed by the on-demand economy, including a slate of policy proposals laid out by Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Overnight Tech: Senate Dems want FCC chief recused from Sinclair merger | Tech rallies on Capitol Hill for DACA | Facebook beefs up lobbying ranks Facebook adds two lobbyists amid Russia probe MORE (D-Va.) on Thursday aimed at creating a safety net for workers who do jobs for the on-demand services.

A representative from the FCC will testify at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing  Wednesday on Amtrak’s implementation of train control systems, a high-profile topic since the deadly derailment of a train in Philadelphia last month.

And the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications will hold a hearing on the oversight of FCC field offices on Thursday. The lawmakers will look at the plan to close 16 of the agency's 24 field offices.

 

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