FCC's Pai could reveal new net neutrality rules tomorrow

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai   Getty  Chip Somodevilla

Ajit Pai, who was named chair of the FCC by President Donald Trump in January, will deliver a speech titled "The Future of Internet Regulation" on Wednesday in Washington, the FCC said.

"Every indication is that Chairman Pai is on the verge of announcing the details of his plan to gut net neutrality, an assault which would be the capstone of an agenda riddled with industry giveaways at the expense of consumers, competition, and small business", said Kate Forscey, government affairs associate at Public Knowledge.

Under FTC-style enforcement, the FCC or the FTC would not set any industrywide net neutrality rules, instead depending on broadband providers' pledges to avoid blocking or slowing web traffic.

Pai has maintained that he supports the principles of net neutrality, but what he opposes is the regulatory underpinnings that were brought through 2015 Open Internet Order. "He's continuing to ignore the mountains of evidence showing that the agency's net neutrality rules are protecting internet users while spurring on investment and innovation". He also cited his plan to relax or repeal of numerous 1,000 pages of regulations on the book, and said that in the next FCC open meeting, a comprehensive rules review will be voted upon, with industry input encouraged.

Pai's spokeman would not provide a comment to Recode. Craig Aaron, the CEO of Advocacy group Free Press said, "Pai wants to hand over control of the internet to providers no matter the cost to our economy and democracy".

He could discuss proposed rulemaking Thursday with fellow commissioners, sources told Politico. Broadband providers could slow traffic to services that compete with products they own or partner with, or they could charge websites for fast-lane access to customers, supporters fear.

If Ajit Pai thinks that destroying net neutrality is going to be easy, he has another thing coming. But policy analysts say that would be a high-risk, high-reward strategy that could quickly run into legal challenges from supporters of net neutrality desperate to preserve the existing rules.

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