FCC Head Proposes Abandoning Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules

22 November, 2017, 00:36 | Author: Darrell Baldwin
  • FCC will reveal vote to repeal net neutrality this week

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations created to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown with consumer groups and internet companies who fear the move will stifle competition and innovation.

Under the Obama Administration, the FCC regulated internet service providers like public utilities that gave the agency sweeping oversight over the conduct of these companies.

The move sets the stage for a crucial vote next month at the Federal Communications Commission that could reshape the entire digital ecosystem.

Pai, a Republican, set a December 14 vote on overturning rules adopted by the FCC in 2015, saying he wants to move away from "heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the internet" and return to a "light-touch, market-based framework".

That's because the FCC is made up of three Republican and two Democratic commissioners. "Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices".

The most immediate effect of the FCC's plan "is that constraints limiting contractual arrangements [between Internet providers and other companies] ... will be lifted for both AT&T and its competitors", said Joshua Wright, a former Republican FTC commissioner. "Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet". The practice, known as zero-rating, was criticized by the previous FCC as a potential violation of net neutrality principles, but Pai rescinded his predecessor's findings upon taking office.




How do you feel about the end of net neutrality?

The repeal would be welcome news for major telecoms, who have lobbied extensively to gut regulations that restrict their control over internet traffic.

"The FCC's net neutrality rules are working well for consumers, and we're disappointed in the proposal released today", Google said in a statement.

"Strong net neutrality rules are vital to consumers' everyday lives and essential to preserving the internet as we know it today - an open marketplace where websites large and small compete on equal terms and where information and ideas move freely", said Jonathan Schwantes, the advocacy group's senior policy counsel.

"You need only look to how privacy policies from websites allow essentially any and all bad behavior", Wood said, "so long as it is disclosed to users". "We agree that internet users should have the freedom to go anywhere on the internet or to run any application with confidence that internet traffic will in no way be blocked or throttled", the organization said in a statement.

The Internet Association had also said that the repeal will actually harm investment in the tech industry as "in a world without net neutrality protections, startups would face discrimination from ISP owned or preferred content that's granted a speed advantage through paid prioritization".

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