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FCC Divided on 'Net Neutrality' Enforcement

By technology editor Ian Bush

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) -- The Federal Communications Commission says it will not appeal a court decision that limits its power to prevent Internet providers from slowing down web sites.

But the commission's next move could again land them before a judge.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democratic appointee, is pushing for new guidelines on what is known as "net neutrality" -- rules, he says, that "will meet the court's test" to stop companies like Comcast and Verizon from discriminating against or improperly blocking sites or content.

Despite the DC Circuit Court's ruling last month, Internet service providers say they continue to treat all traffic equally.   But the major ISPs want bandwidth hogs like Netflix to pay more for using more.

And Netflix, the video service, says streaming speeds have taken a hit of late.

Wheeler has opened public comment on the proposals, which include enforcing and enhancing the rule that requires Internet providers to "disclose how they manage" traffic.   He is also keeping the door open to reclassify Internet access, to give the FCC greater control.

Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai calls net neutrality "a solution in search of a problem" and says the policy prescribed by law is to "preserve the vibrant and competitive free market," unrestrained by regulation.

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