Net Neutrality: Days are Numbered
April 18, 2017
Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, has quickly moved to remove all of previous President Barack Obama’s net neutrality rules, according to Reuters. Under Obama’s 2015 approved FCC rules, broadband providers were prohibited from giving or selling faster internet to certain internet service over others, and the FCC also reclassified internet service providers much like utilities.
Pai, who has always felt net neutrality was a mistake, wants to overturn that reclassification and have internet service providers voluntarily promise to keep the internet open and not slow down consumer’s web content. The chairman, appointed by President Donald Trump, met with major telecommunications trade groups to talk about his plans April 4. According to officials at the meeting, Pai suggested to make it official by having companies commit to the changes in writing and put them in the terms of services.
It is unclear whether regulators would be able to legally enforce internet providers to accept the open internet policy with existing net neutrality rules, because of that the Federal Trade Commission would be put in charge of making sure providers comply with the changes. Pai’s plans to overturn the rules can be revealed as soon as late April and the plan can face voting in May or June according to sources in Reuters article.
Internet providers, like AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., and Comcast Corp., have argued that the new rules would make investment in additional capacity less likely and make it harder to manage internet traffic. Websites are also worried that without the rules they will lose access to customers. According to privacy advocates and Democrats, net neutrality is crucial to keeping the internet open.
“Existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact,” the Internet Association wrote in a follow-up transparency filing according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
Pai, who said net neutrality days were numbered, told Reuters in a previous report from February that he believes “in a free and open internet and the only question is what regulatory framework best secures that.” Pai and congressional Republicans have moved to get rid of old telecommunications rules and Trump signed the repeal on broadband privacy rules Obama had placed during his time April 3.