The FCC rules allow for two types of communications harassment: telecommunication harassment and telecommunication interference.
Telecommunication harassment occurs when a carrier engages in abusive behavior, such as blocking, throttling, or otherwise degrading service.
It’s illegal for carriers to deliberately block, throttle, or degrade Internet service.
The FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order requires carriers to ensure that they do not intentionally block, degrade, or interfere with lawful content or services.
Broadband providers are required to implement network capacity upgrades and other technical improvements, but they may not discriminate based on the source of their access to the network.
Broadcasters, cable providers, and satellite companies are also required to maintain the speed, reliability, and capacity to deliver their content.
However, there are exceptions to these rules.
Telecommunications interference is the behavior of a telecommunications carrier that causes the physical presence of another person to be interfered with, whether the interference is caused by the carrier or someone else.
Telecommunications interference includes blocking, degrading, or slowing services, blocking or interfering with the transmission of a lawful program, or interfering to prevent a lawful act or procedure.
Telephones are generally considered telecommunications, but can also include other forms of electronic communications.
In 2017, the FCC issued a new rule requiring telephone carriers to maintain a reasonable level of quality in the quality and availability of service.
A carrier can be found in violation of this rule only if it: has a history of unlawful or abusive behavior against third parties or consumers; has a failure to maintain reasonable standards of quality or availability in the service it provides; and fails to make reasonable efforts to repair the service, including by offering a full refund for the service.
Telecommunications discrimination is a specific type of harassment that includes discriminatory practices in the content of telecommunications communications, or in the delivery of telecommunications services.
A telecommunications carrier must make reasonable modifications to the quality of the service or services it provides, including making reasonable modifications in the amount of information that it transmits, the way it delivers that information, and the way customers use the service and data.
The rules also require carriers to make a reasonable effort to remove discrimination and harassment, including through the provision of free or low-cost services or the creation of special services.
Examples of telecommunications discrimination include: discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, or disability;