FCC lay outs plan to roll back "net neutrality"

Randall Craig
November 22, 2017

Former FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, who drafted the net neutrality rules called the move "tragic".

The dispute over net neutrality has been the subject of several court battles, with backers arguing rules are needed to guard against powerful broadband firms like Comcast and AT&T acting as "gatekeepers" which can punish rivals.

The ACLU has already released a statement opposing the FCC and Chairman Pai's plan and ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley said, "Internet rights are civil rights". The plan would also allow ISPs to throttle traffic for specific sites, making some sites load faster or slower than others.

The FCC in 2015 approved rules, on a party-line vote, that made sure cable and phone companies don't manipulate traffic. Also expected to be jettisoned is an Internet conduct standard meant to prevent ISPs from unreasonable interference with consumer's access to destinations on the Net. "If a service provider can block you from seeing certain content or can make you pay extra for it, that hurts all of us and we should have rules against it".

"The FCC will no longer be in the business of micromanaging business models and preemptively prohibiting services and applications and products that could be pro-competitive", Pai said in an interview with Reuters. FCC chairman Ajit Pai put forward the proposal, which will be taken up in December 14 vote, as a signature piece of his deregulation agenda.

With a Republican majority on the FCC, passage of the proposed rules is nearly certain. It ignores the will of people from across the political spectrum who overwhelmingly support these protections.

A USA appeals court a year ago upheld the legality of the net neutrality regulations, which were challenged in a lawsuit led by telecommunications industry trade association US Telecom.

FCC lay outs plan to roll back

Calling the FCC's 2015 decision that classified the Internet as a public utility a "mistake", chairman Ajit Pai claims it has "depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation".

"Despite Pai's fanciful tales of gloom and doom, there's no need for a reactionary rewiring of the FCC's rules".

The Internet Association, a trade group with members including Netflix, Facebook, Google and Amazon.com Inc., said "This proposal undoes almost two decades of bipartisan agreement on baseline net neutrality principles that protect Americans' ability to access the entire internet". All of this would be lost if Pai insists on jettisoning Title II.

Several internet companies are strongly opposed to the move.

"The administration is moving to destroy the openness and dynamism of the internet", Pelosi said in an email message.

Telecom giants have lobbied for years against these regulations and have fought to have more control over how the Americans consume internet content.

The Internet Association, which represents Google's parent company Alphabet as well as Facebook said the vote will spell the end of net neutrality. The FCC has lost every time it's tried to base open-internet protections on anything other than the Title II authority granted to the agency by a bipartisan congressional vote.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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