Federal Internet Law & Policy
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Net Neutrality :: Disclosure
Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY

2010 OI Rule: A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings. - OI 2010 para 54.

The Transparency Rule was affirmed Verizon v. FCC [Verizon, 740 F.3d at 659] and the 2015 Open Internet Order. The 2015 Open Internet Order went on to clarify and enhance those transparency rules. [OI 2015 para 161 "all of the pieces of  information described in paragraphs 56 and 98 of the Open Internet Order have been required as part of the current transparency rule, and we will continue to require the information as part of our enhanced rule"]

Disclosure Information

"We expect that effective disclosures will likely include some or all of the following types of information, timely and prominently disclosed in plain language accessible to current and prospective end users and edge providers, the Commission, and third parties who wish to monitor network management practices for potential violations of open Internet principles... We emphasize that this list is not necessarily exhaustive, nor is it a safe harbor-there may be additional information, not included above, that should be disclosed for a particular broadband service to comply with the rule in light of relevant circumstances. Broadband providers should examine their network management practices and current disclosures to determine what additional information, if any, should be disclosed to comply with the rule.: [OI R&O 2010 para 56] [Guidance]

All disclosed information must be accurate and up to date. OI Rules 2015 para 161.

Network Practices

See also

Performance Characteristics

Commercial Terms

Form of Disclosure

2015 OI Rules para 171

We enhance the rule to require a mechanism for directly notifying end users if their individual use of a network will trigger a network practice, based on their demand prior to a period of congestion, that is likely to have a significant impact on the end user’s use of the service.  The purpose of such notification is to provide the affected end users with sufficient information and time to consider adjusting their usage to avoid application of the practice.

OI Rules 2010

57.  In the Open Internet NPRM , we proposed that broadband providers publicly disclose their practices on their websites and in promotional materials. [181] Most commenters agree that a provider's website is a natural place for end users and edge providers to find disclosures, [182] and several contend that a broadband provider's only obligation should be to post its practices on its website. [183] Others assert that disclosures should also be displayed prominently at the point-of-sale, in bill inserts, and in the service contract. [184] We agree that broadband providers must, at a minimum, prominently display or provide links to disclosures on a publicly available, easily accessible website that is available to current and prospective end users and edge providers as well as to the Commission, and must disclose relevant information at the point of sale. Current end users must be able to easily identify which disclosures apply to their service offering. Broadband providers' online disclosures shall be considered disclosed to the Commission for purposes of monitoring and enforcement. We may require additional disclosures directly to the Commission. [185]

58.  We anticipate that broadband providers may be able to satisfy the transparency rule through a single disclosure, and therefore do not at this time require multiple disclosures targeted at different audiences. [186] We also decline to adopt a specific format for disclosures, and instead require that disclosure be sufficiently clear and accessible to meet the requirements of the rule. [187] We will, however, continue to monitor compliance with this rule, and may require adherence to a particular set of best practices in the future. [188]

"The Open Internet Order requires broadband providers to disclose network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms "at the point of sale." [para 57] ... The Commission [stated] that "broadband providers must, at a minimum, prominently display or provide links to disclosures on a publicly available, easily accessible website that is available to current and prospective end users and edge providers." The Commission further explained in the Order that it anticipated that "broadband providers may be able to satisfy the transparency rule through a single disclosure." Accordingly, we clarify that the Order does not compel  the distribution of disclosure materials in hard copy or extensive training of sales employees to provide the disclosures themselves. Broadband providers can comply with the point-of-sale requirement by, for instance, directing prospective customers at the point of sale, orally and/or prominently in writing, to a web address at which the required disclosures are clearly posted and appropriately updated. The address provided should enable consumers easily to find the disclosures, rather than, for example, leading to a broadband provider's general purpose home page from which the disclosures are not clearly and readily accessible. At brick-and-mortar retail outlets (i.e., not telephone or Internet sales centers), broadband providers that rely on a web page for point-of-sale disclosure should make available equipment, such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone, through which customers can access the disclosures." [Guidance]

Small Providers

2015 OI Rules para 172-175 "Out of an abundance of caution, we grant a temporary exemption for these providers, with the potential for that exemption to become permanent.... Accordingly, we hereby adopt a temporary exemption from the enhancements to the transparency rule for those providers of broadband Internet access service (whether fixed or mobile) with 100,000 or fewer broadband subscribers as per their most recent Form 477, aggregated over all the providers’ affiliates... Accordingly, the exemption we adopt is only temporary.  We delegate to the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) the authority to determine whether to maintain the exemption and, if so, the appropriate threshold for it... To be clear, all providers of broadband Internet access service, including small providers, remain subject to the existing transparency rule adopted in 2010.  The temporary exemption adopted today, and any permanent exemption adopted by CGB, applies only to the enhanced disclosures described above. "


Government Activity

"Need For Speed" Information For Consumers Of Broadband Services

CG Docket 09-158. Comments Due May 26, 2011; Replies Due June 16, 2011. Comments can be filed at FCC ECFS.

Consumers rely on Internet-based applications and services that place a wide range of demands on broadband networks. Some applications, like e-mail, are generally not sensitive to network performance. Other applications, such as videoconferencing and gaming, may be affected significantly by a broadband service's speed, latency, and jitter. Consumers seeking to make informed choices between competing broadband Internet access services require information about the speed and performance required for the range of Internet applications they intend to use. We note that the Open Internet Order requires broadband providers to disclose information regarding network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of broadband services. This Public Notice seeks input on the particular types of "need for speed" information that are most useful to consumers assessing which broadband service to purchase. This Notice is a further step in the Commission's ongoing effort to ensure that consumers have access to the information they need about the communications services they purchase and use.

. . . . . More

4/11/11 FCC Bureau Seeks Comment on "Need for Speed" Information for Consumers of Broadband Services.
News Release: Word | Acrobat
Public Notice: Word | Acrobat


This solution was endorsed by the FCC's NRIC and the IETF. It was also a part of FCC Ch. Powell's Four Freedoms, but was subsequently dropped in FCC Ch. Martin's Broadband Principles. BITAG also recommended disclosures, specifically of "differential treatment." [BITAG (Network operators should disclose information on differential treatment of traffic. p. iv)]

In additional, it has been recommended that a useful endeavor would be to create a baseline of network discriminatory behavior (both good and bad) which exists for such things as network management, security, and network operations.

[FTC Staff Report 2007 p 58: A related concern expressed by some network neutrality proponents is that last mile ISPs might not disclose to end users the ISPs' differential treatment of certain data and that they will be able to get away with such non-disclosure due to a lack of viable competitive alternatives in the marketplace or the difficulty of tracing problems to ISPs' practices. Proponents also suggest that, to the extent that such disclosures are made by ISPs, many end users will not be able to readily understand them, making such disclosures ineffective in checking potential ISP misconduct.262 Some network neutrality proponents also argue that the use of data packet inspection and other traffic analysis technologies by network operators may give rise to privacy concerns that end users might not readily recognize.

Both NSFNET and ARPANet had AUP's which indicated what was and was not appropriate activity over the Net. Standards and protocols are disclosed through RFCs of the Internet Engineering Task Force. See Ports for a list of existing Port-Blocking policies.

FCC NRIC VI Focus Group 4 (Broadband) Recommendations Service Transparency White Paper, December 5,2003 Broadband - Papers (doc) Published 05-Dec-03

Service Transparency: Broadband Service Providers Should: