A divided FCC voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to open proceedings on a proposed new set of open Internet rules that would allow for “paid prioritization” of website traffic. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) attempts to rewrite the FCC’s net neutrality rules in response to concerns outlined earlier this year by the DC Circuit Court in its ruling that struck down key portions of  the agency’s 2010 Open Internet order. While the  NPRM retains the Open Internet order’s policy of prohibiting broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or degrading lawful web content and engaging in discrimination with respect to the transmission of Internet traffic, the FCC’s latest proposal justifies this approach under Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Mirroring a draft document circulated earlier this month by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the NPRM also proposes rules on paid prioritization that would permit phone  service  carriers and other  network- based ISPs to impose toll fees on websites that seek to provide faster or higher quality connection speeds to their customers as long as the ISPs satisfy a new standard of “commercial reasonableness” to be set by the FCC. In deference to consumer groups, members of Congress and a host of other parties that have recently voiced significant concern with this proposal, the NPRM also asks whether paid prioritization arrangements between ISPs and website operators should be banned. The NPRM also solicits comment on the question of whether broadband ISPs should be reclassified and regulated as Title II telecommunications carriers. In contrast to the original draft document, the NPRM further proposes the establishment of “multifaceted dispute resolution process” as part of the FCC’s net neutrality enforcement effort that would be overseen by an ombudsman to be appointed by the agency. Stressing, that “the prospect of a gatekeeper choosing winners and losers on the Internet is unacceptable,” Wheeler told reporters that “if a network operator slowed the speed of service below that which the consumer  bought, it would  be commercially unreasonable and therefore prohibited,” whereas “if the . . . . operator blocked access to lawful content, it would violate our no-blocking rule and therefore be doubly prohibited.” Meanwhile, in a dissenting statement, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai questioned the FCC’s authority to decide the issue of net neutrality in the first place, as he maintained that the question of net neutrality “should be resolved by the people’s elected representatives.”