47 U.S.C. secs. 151, 152, 153, 154, 201, 218, 230, 251, 254, 256, 257, 301, 303, 304, 307, 309, 316, 332, 403, 503, 522, 536, 548, 1302.
76 FR 59232, Sept. 23, 2011, unless otherwise noted.
The purpose of this part is to preserve the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission.
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.
(a) A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.
(b) A person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful Web sites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider's voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management.
§ 8.7 No unreasonable discrimination.
A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer's broadband Internet access service. Reasonable network management shall not constitute unreasonable discrimination.
§ 8.9 Other laws and considerations.
(a) Nothing in this part supersedes any obligation or authorization a provider of broadband Internet access service may have to address the needs of emergency communications or law enforcement, public safety, or national security authorities, consistent with or as permitted by applicable law, or limits the provider's ability to do so.
(b) Nothing in this part prohibits reasonable efforts by a provider of broadband Internet access service to address copyright infringement or other unlawful activity.
(a) Broadband Internet access service. A mass-market retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up Internet access service. This term also encompasses any service that the Commission finds to be providing a functional equivalent of the service described in the previous sentence, or that is used to evade the protections set forth in this part.
(b) Fixed broadband Internet access service. A broadband Internet access service that serves end users primarily at fixed endpoints using stationary equipment. Fixed broadband Internet access service includes fixed wireless services (including fixed unlicensed wireless services), and fixed satellite services.
(c) Mobile broadband Internet access service. A broadband Internet access service that serves end users primarily using mobile stations.
(d) Reasonable network management. A network management practice is reasonable if it is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband Internet access service.
§ 8.12 Formal complaints.
Any person may file a formal complaint alleging a violation of the rules in this part.
§ 8.13 General pleading requirements.
(a) General pleading requirements. All written submissions, both substantive and procedural, must conform to the following standards:
(1) A pleading must be clear, concise, and explicit. All matters concerning a claim, defense or requested remedy should be pleaded fully and with specificity.
(2) Pleadings must contain facts that, if true, are sufficient to warrant a grant of the relief requested.
(3) Facts must be supported by relevant documentation or affidavit.
(4) The original of all pleadings and submissions by any party shall be signed by that party, or by the party's attorney. Complaints must be signed by the complainant. The signing party shall state his or her address and telephone number and the date on which the document was signed. Copies should be conformed to the original. Each submission must contain a written verification that the signatory has read the submission and to the best of his or her knowledge, information and belief formed after reasonable inquiry, it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law; and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose. If any pleading or other submission is signed in violation of this provision, the Commission shall upon motion or upon its own initiative impose appropriate sanctions.
(5) Legal arguments must be supported by appropriate judicial, Commission, or statutory authority. Opposing authorities must be distinguished. Copies must be provided of all non-Commission authorities relied upon which are not routinely available in national reporting systems, such as unpublished decisions or slip opinions of courts or administrative agencies.
(6) Parties are responsible for the continuing accuracy and completeness of all information and supporting authority furnished in a pending complaint proceeding. Information submitted, as well as relevant legal authorities, must be current and updated as necessary and in a timely manner at any time before a decision is rendered on the merits of the complaint.
(7) Parties seeking expedited resolution of their complaint may request acceptance on the Enforcement Bureau's Accelerated Docket pursuant to the procedures at §1.730 of this chapter.
(b) Copies to be Filed. The complainant shall file an original copy of the complaint, accompanied by the correct fee, in accordance with part 1, subpart G ( see §1.1106 of this chapter) and, on the same day:
(1) File three copies of the complaint with the Office of the Commission Secretary;
(2) Serve two copies on the Market Disputes Resolution Division, Enforcement Bureau;
(3) Serve the complaint by hand delivery on either the named defendant or one of the named defendant's registered agents for service of process, if available, on the same date that the complaint is filed with the Commission.
(c) Prefiling notice required. Any person intending to file a complaint under this section must first notify the potential defendant in writing that it intends to file a complaint with the Commission based on actions alleged to violate one or more of the provisions contained in this part. The notice must be sufficiently detailed so that its recipient(s) can determine the specific nature of the potential complaint. The potential complainant must allow a minimum of ten (10) days for the potential defendant(s) to respond before filing a complaint with the Commission.
(d) Frivolous pleadings. It shall be unlawful for any party to file a frivolous pleading with the Commission. Any violation of this paragraph shall constitute an abuse of process subject to appropriate sanctions.
§ 8.14 General formal complaint procedures.
(a) Complaints. In addition to the general pleading requirements, complaints must adhere to the following requirements:
(1) Certificate of service. Complaints shall be accompanied by a certificate of service on any defendant.
(2) Statement of relief requested —(i) The complaint shall state the relief requested. It shall state fully and precisely all pertinent facts and considerations relied on to demonstrate the need for the relief requested and to support a determination that a grant of such relief would serve the public interest.
(ii) The complaint shall set forth all steps taken by the parties to resolve the problem.
(iii) A complaint may, on request of the filing party, be dismissed without prejudice as a matter of right prior to the adoption date of any final action taken by the Commission with respect to the petition or complaint. A request for the return of an initiating document will be regarded as a request for dismissal.
(3) Failure to prosecute. Failure to prosecute a complaint, or failure to respond to official correspondence or request for additional information, will be cause for dismissal. Such dismissal will be without prejudice if it occurs prior to the adoption date of any final action taken by the Commission with respect to the initiating pleading.
(b) Answers to complaints. Unless otherwise directed by the Commission, any party who is served with a complaint shall file an answer in accordance with the following requirements:
(1) The answer shall be filed within 20 days of service of the complaint.
(2) The answer shall advise the parties and the Commission fully and completely of the nature of any and all defenses, and shall respond specifically to all material allegations of the complaint. Collateral or immaterial issues shall be avoided in answers and every effort should be made to narrow the issues. Any party against whom a complaint is filed failing to file and serve an answer within the time and in the manner prescribed by these rules may be deemed in default and an order may be entered against defendant in accordance with the allegations contained in the complaint.
(3) Facts must be supported by relevant documentation or affidavit.
(4) The answer shall admit or deny the averments on which the adverse party relies. If the defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of an averment, the defendant shall so state and this has the effect of a denial. When a defendant intends in good faith to deny only part of an averment, the answer shall specify so much of it as is true and shall deny only the remainder, and state in detail the basis of that denial.
(5) Averments in a complaint are deemed to be admitted when not denied in the answer.
(c) Reply. In addition to the general pleading requirements, replies must adhere to the following requirements:
(1) The complainant may file a reply to a responsive pleading that shall be served on the defendant and shall also contain a detailed full showing, supported by affidavit, of any additional facts or considerations relied on. Unless expressly permitted by the Commission, replies shall not contain new matters.
(2) Failure to reply will not be deemed an admission of any allegations contained in the responsive pleading, except with respect to any affirmative defense set forth therein.
(3) Unless otherwise directed by the Commission, replies must be filed within ten (10) days after submission of the responsive pleading.
(d) Motions. Except as provided in this section, or upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances, additional motions or pleadings by any party will not be accepted.
(e) Additional procedures and written submissions. (1) The Commission may specify other procedures, such as oral argument or evidentiary hearing directed to particular aspects, as it deems appropriate. In the event that an evidentiary hearing is required, the Commission will determine, on the basis of the pleadings and such other procedures as it may specify, whether temporary relief should be afforded any party pending the hearing and the nature of any such temporary relief.
(2) The Commission may require the parties to submit any additional information it deems appropriate for a full, fair, and expeditious resolution of the proceeding, including copies of all contracts and documents reflecting arrangements and understandings alleged to violate the requirements set forth in the Communications Act and in this part, as well as affidavits and exhibits.
(3) The Commission may, in its discretion, require the parties to file briefs summarizing the facts and issues presented in the pleadings and other record evidence.
(i) These briefs shall contain the findings of fact and conclusions of law which that party is urging the Commission to adopt, with specific citations to the record, and supported by relevant authority and analysis.
(ii) The schedule for filing any briefs shall be at the discretion of the Commission. Unless ordered otherwise by the Commission, such briefs shall not exceed fifty (50) pages.
(iii) Reply briefs may be submitted at the discretion of the Commission. Unless ordered otherwise by the Commission, reply briefs shall not exceed thirty (30) pages.
(f) Discovery. (1) The Commission may in its discretion order discovery limited to the issues specified by the Commission. Such discovery may include answers to written interrogatories, depositions, document production, or requests for admissions.
(2) The Commission may in its discretion direct the parties to submit discovery proposals, together with a memorandum in support of the discovery requested. Such discovery requests may include answers to written interrogatories, admissions, document production, or depositions. The Commission may hold a status conference with the parties, pursuant to §8.15, to determine the scope of discovery, or direct the parties regarding the scope of discovery. If the Commission determines that extensive discovery is required or that depositions are warranted, the Commission may advise the parties that the proceeding will be referred to an administrative law judge in accordance with paragraph (g) of this section.
(g) Referral to administrative law judge. (1) After reviewing the pleadings, and at any stage of the proceeding thereafter, the Commission may, in its discretion, designate any proceeding or discrete issues arising out of any proceeding for an adjudicatory hearing before an administrative law judge.
(2) Before designation for hearing, the Commission shall notify, either orally or in writing, the parties to the proceeding of its intent to so designate, and the parties shall be given a period of ten (10) days to elect to resolve the dispute through alternative dispute resolution procedures, or to proceed with an adjudicatory hearing. Such election shall be submitted in writing to the Commission.
(3) Unless otherwise directed by the Commission, or upon motion by the Enforcement Bureau Chief, the Enforcement Bureau Chief shall not be deemed to be a party to a proceeding designated for a hearing before an administrative law judge pursuant to this paragraph (g).
(h) Commission ruling. The Commission (or the Enforcement Bureau on delegated authority), after consideration of the pleadings, shall issue an order ruling on the complaint.
§ 8.15 Status conference.
(a) In any proceeding subject to the part 8 rules, the Commission may in its discretion direct the attorneys and/or the parties to appear for a conference to consider:
(1) Simplification or narrowing of the issues;
(2) The necessity for or desirability of amendments to the pleadings, additional pleadings, or other evidentiary submissions;
(3) Obtaining admissions of fact or stipulations between the parties as to any or all of the matters in controversy;
(4) Settlement of the matters in controversy by agreement of the parties;
(5) The necessity for and extent of discovery, including objections to interrogatories or requests for written documents;
(6) The need and schedule for filing briefs, and the date for any further conferences; and
(7) Such other matters that may aid in the disposition of the proceeding.
(b) Any party may request that a conference be held at any time after an initiating document has been filed.
(c) Conferences will be scheduled by the Commission at such time and place as it may designate, to be conducted in person or by telephone conference call.
(d) The failure of any attorney or party, following advance notice with an opportunity to be present, to appear at a scheduled conference will be deemed a waiver and will not preclude the Commission from conferring with those parties or counsel present.
(e) During a status conference, the Commission may issue oral rulings pertaining to a variety of matters relevant to the conduct of the proceeding including, inter alia, procedural matters, discovery, and the submission of briefs or other evidentiary materials. These rulings will be promptly memorialized in writing and served on the parties. When such rulings require a party to take affirmative action, such action will be required within ten (10) days from the date of the written memorialization unless otherwise directed by the Commission.
§ 8.16 Confidentiality of proprietary information.
(a) Any materials filed in the course of a proceeding under this part may be designated as proprietary by that party if the party believes in good faith that the materials fall within an exemption to disclosure contained in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(b). Any party asserting confidentiality for such materials shall so indicate by clearly marking each page, or portion thereof, for which a proprietary designation is claimed. If a proprietary designation is challenged, the party claiming confidentiality will have the burden of demonstrating, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the material designated as proprietary falls under the standards for nondisclosure enunciated in FOIA.
(b) Submissions containing information claimed to be proprietary under this section shall be submitted to the Commission in confidence pursuant to the requirements of §0.459 of this chapter and clearly marked “Not for Public Inspection.” An edited version removing all proprietary data shall be filed with the Commission for inclusion in the public file within five (5) days from the date the unedited reply is submitted, and shall be served on the opposing parties.
(c) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, materials marked as proprietary may be disclosed solely to the following persons, only for use in the proceeding, and only to the extent necessary to assist in the prosecution or defense of the case:
(1) Counsel of record representing the parties in the proceeding and any support personnel employed by such attorneys;
(2) Officers or employees of the parties in the proceeding who are named by another party as being directly involved in the proceeding;
(3) Consultants or expert witnesses retained by the parties;
(4) The Commission and its staff; and
(5) Court reporters and stenographers in accordance with the terms and conditions of this section.
(d) The Commission will entertain, subject to a proper showing, a party's request to further restrict access to proprietary information as specified by the party. The other parties will have an opportunity to respond to such requests.
(e) The persons designated in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section shall not disclose information designated as proprietary to any person who is not authorized under this section to receive such information, and shall not use the information in any activity or function other than the prosecution or defense of the case before the Commission. Each individual who is provided access to the information by the opposing party shall sign a notarized statement affirmatively stating, or shall certify under penalty of perjury, that the individual has personally reviewed the Commission's rules and understands the limitations they impose on the signing party.
(f) No copies of materials marked proprietary may be made except copies to be used by persons designated in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section. Each party shall maintain a log recording the number of copies made of all proprietary material and the persons to whom the copies have been provided.
(g) Upon termination of the complaint proceeding, including all appeals and petitions, all originals and reproductions of any proprietary materials, along with the log recording persons who received copies of such materials, shall be provided to the producing party. In addition, upon final termination of the proceeding, any notes or other work product derived in whole or in part from the proprietary materials of an opposing or third party shall be destroyed.
(a) Interlocutory review. (1) Except as provided below, no party may seek review of interlocutory rulings until a decision on the merits has been issued by the Commission's staff, including an administrative law judge.
(2) Rulings listed in this paragraph are reviewable as a matter of right. An application for review of such ruling may not be deferred and raised as an exception to a decision on the merits.
(i) If the staff's ruling denies or terminates the right of any person to participate as a party to the proceeding, such person, as a matter of right, may file an application for review of that ruling.
(ii) If the staff's ruling requires production of documents or other written evidence, over objection based on a claim of privilege, the ruling on the claim of privilege is reviewable as a matter of right.
(iii) If the staff's ruling denies a motion to disqualify a staff person from participating in the proceeding, the ruling is reviewable as a matter of right.
(b) Petitions for reconsideration. Petitions for reconsideration of interlocutory actions by the Commission's staff or by an administrative law judge will not be entertained. Petitions for reconsideration of a decision on the merits made by the Commission's staff should be filed in accordance with §§1.104 through 1.106 of this chapter.
(c) Application for review. (1) Any party to a part 8 proceeding aggrieved by any decision on the merits issued by the staff pursuant to delegated authority may file an application for review by the Commission in accordance with §1.115 of this chapter.
(2) Any party to a part 8 proceeding aggrieved by any decision on the merits by an administrative law judge may file an appeal of the decision directly with the Commission, in accordance with §§1.276(a) and 1.277(a) through (c) of this chapter.