The Federal Communications Commission is spitballing some creative new ideas for protecting net neutrality.
In a blog post Monday, Julie Veach, the chief of the agency's Wireline Bureau, said Chairman Tom Wheeler is looking at a "rainbow of policy and legal proposals" rather than being confined to "monochromatic" options.
The post doesn't provide a clear picture of what the FCC plans to do on the heated issue, but it does offer a rare glimpse into which proposals the agency is seriously exploring as it crafts final rules.
The FCC first enacted net-neutrality regulations in 2010 that barred broadband providers from blocking or "unreasonably" discriminating against any Internet traffic, but a federal court struck down those rules earlier this year. Wheeler is now trying to come up with new rules that can survive future legal challenges.
His initial proposal sparked a massive liberal backlash because it would have allowed broadband providers to charge websites for faster service in some cases. More than 3.7 million people submitted comments on the issue, and Wheeler is under intense public pressure to toughen up his proposal.
So far, the debate has focused on whether the FCC will regulate broadband Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, which would give the agency sweeping new authority. Liberals argue that the legal maneuver is the only way to put net-neutrality rules on firm legal ground, while broadband providers and Republicans warn it would stifle economic growth.