The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday that the FCC would resurrect its Open Internet (i.e., Net Neutrality) rules. But the devil is in the details.

Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, announced on Wednesday that the regulatory body would act to restore the FCC's Net Neutrality-friendly Open Internet rules that governed Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon before a circuit appeals court struck down the part of the FCC's authority in January. Net Neutrality is the principle that ISPs should treat all legal data traffic on their networks equally, and should not discriminate against any traffic, even if it competes with the ISP's own services or entertainment. So under Net Neutrality, or the FCC's Open Internet incarnation of it, ISPs like Verizon can't slow Netflix traffic, even if it competes with Verizon's own on demand service.

"In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit invited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet," wrote Wheeler in his announcement. "I intend to accept that invitation by proposing rules that will meet the court's test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among Internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how Internet Service Providers manage traffic, and enhancing competition."

The court had struck down the FCC's authority to govern ISPs as "information service providers" but left the option open for the FCC to regulate broadband company practices in other ways, including reclassifying ISPs as "common carriers" like landline phone services or utilities. Many Net Neutrality activists and media experts argue that the Internet should now be treated as a utility, because it's now as essential to everyday economic and social life as phone lines were in decades past.

According to Wheeler, who is a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, the FCC is taking the first option and keeping the second on the table, just in case. Just how the rules will work is not clear yet, as the FCC will be drawing up its policy in the coming months, but there are indications that Wheeler wants to enforce its Open Internet (Net Neutrality) rules without completely changing the regulatory landscape.

In principle, the three main tenets of the FCC's Open Internet rules should stand. Wheeler wants the FCC to "enforce and enhance the transparency rule," which "requires that network operators disclose how they manage Internet traffic." He also wants to "fulfill the 'no blocking' goal," which will "ensure that edge providers," the Netflix's of the Internet, "are not unfairly blocked, explicitly or implicitly, from reaching consumers, as well as ensuring that consumers can continue to access any lawful content and services they choose." Finally, Wheeler says the new policy will "fulfill the goals of the non-discrimination rule," which will include "setting an enforceable legal standard that provides guidance and predictability to edge providers, consumers, and broadband providers alike."

But the problematic detail in Wheeler's plan is that it will mean the FCC evaluates compliance to the non-discrimination rule on a "case-by-case basis."

In an ever-accelerating world of never-before-seen upstart Internet services, content partnerships, and mega mergers, it's hard to see how a regulatory body with less than 2,000 employees could manage the nation's ISP behavior on a case-by-case basis. As one of the top media reporters in the country, the New York Times' David Carr, said in a recent interview with WNYC, "As a reporter, I have trouble keeping up with this stuff day to day, and it's hard to think of any regulatory apparatus that would be flexible and fungible enough to keep up." And he said that before the FCC announced it would work case-by-case.

On the bright side, Wheeler seems to be following a strategy of "talk softly and carry a big stick," -- that is, ask an industry to follow a set of principles, but threaten heavier regulation if they don't -- which is a tactic he successfully employed in late 2013 to poke the wireless industry into allowing consumers to unlock their phones.

In the case of Net Neutrality, Wheeler is reserving the right to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers if they act up, essentially turning them into public utilities that are subject to much heavier regulation and enforcement. However, Republicans on the FCC are already balking at Wheeler's Open Internet plan, indicating resistance within the regulatory body, in addition to industry resistance without. "The Internet was free and open before the FCC adopted Net neutrality rules. It remains free and open today," said FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, the senior of the two Republicans on the five-member commission, according to Reuters. "I am skeptical that this effort will end any differently from the last."

But with accusations of Verizon throttling Netflix during the House of Cards premier already appearing, the idea of reclassifying ISPs having strong grassroots support, and the inevitability that the Internet will play as essential a role in everyday life as electricity and running water, it's hard to think of a better time for the FCC to act more strongly.