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Internet Neutrality and WTO Rules

On February 27, 2015, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules regarding the provision of access to the internet, commonly known as "net neutrality" rules. The main effect of these changes, which have not yet been implemented, would be to bring network owners that provide primary access to the internet within the scope of Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934, thus making them subject to regulation as telecommunications companies providing a public good. The decision of the FCC to regulate network access provision under Title II raises the possibility that the United States would now accept that these services are covered by the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) Annex on Telecommunications and the GATS Reference Paper on Basic Telecommunications. From the viewpoint of the WTO this is a significant change.

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