FCC Chief Begins Rollback Of 'Net Neutrality' Regulations

EFF and Allies Write to Congress: FCC Chairman Pai's Network Neutrality Plan Unworkable

The FCC Chairman characterized the net neutrality rules as political, arguing that they resulted from former President Barack Obama's November 2014 public statement urging the agency to reclassify broadband as a "Title II" utility service.

- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai unveiled plans on April 26 to roll back so-called net neutrality rules enacted in 2015 which classified broadband providers as utilities under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. "Make no mistake about it: this is a fight that we intend to wage and it is a fight that we are going to win", he said. "Instead, we need rules that focus on growth and infrastructure investment, rules that expand high-speed internet access everywhere and give Americans more online choice, faster speeds and more innovation". But regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies were concerned about what broadband companies could do with their power as the pathway to the internet — blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example. She argues that dismantling net neutrality would not only hurt consumers but "chill competition" and "punish entrepreneurs". Pai claims that internet openness was already protected prior to the classification of broadband service under Title II.

Wood: It will go to public comment, and then it will eventually go to a vote with the FCC.

Pai acknowledges that while some against the net neutrality regulations have "called on the FCC to reverse Title II immediately through a declaratory ruling", the "decision should be made through an open, transparent process through which every American can share his or her views".

Pai and Republican commissioner Mike O'Rielly now hold a 2-1 majority at the agency.

The Internet Association, a group that represents more than 40 top Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Netflix, said the current rules are working and "these consumer protections should not be changed".

Smaller startups generally have an easier time defending stricter net-neutrality rules, since they are less likely, hypothetically speaking, to benefit from systems that allow ISPs to give some services preferential treatment.

Congressional Democrats who support the Open Internet order also see the grassroots movement as the best tool in fighting Pai's proposal.

Net neutrality is one of the more contentious issues in technology today.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is cutting right to the heart of the matter. "We applaud F.C.C. Chairman Pai's initiative to remove this stifling regulatory cloud over the internet", Randall L Stephenson, AT&T's chief executive said, the Times reported. For example, the Obama FCC said that "zero rating" practices by AT&T violated net neutrality. Today's announcement is in stark contrast to a landmark net neutrality policy that was approved by the Chairman's predecessor to ensure that the internet remains open to all and that all online content is always treated the same by the internet providers.

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