FCC Chairman Announces Plan to Roll Back Net Neutrality Regulations

Because it's 2017, and nothing can just stay god-damned fixed anymore, it looks like the hard-won fight for net neutrality is about to be reignited and potentially overturned. Pai notably said that he intends the whole process of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to be handled in the open, with public hearings and open discussions, starting with the release of a formal "Notice of Proposed Rule Making" on April 27.

- Pai's proposal would eliminate the "internet conduct standard" which gave the FCC a broad remit over broadband providers, to ensure they did not unreasonably interfere with users' ability to access high-speed internet service or to select the content, applications, services or devices of their choice.

The fight against net neutrality is being led by President Donald Trump's appointed FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai. Now, he's pledging to undo them, swapping in voluntary, self-governed "We'll keep an eye on us" promises from companies instead.

Pai's proposal would reclassify broadband providers as Title I information services, making it hard for the FCC to regulate them.

Submit your Newswire tips here. That order established the principles of the open internet in law and reclassified internet service providers as "common carriers" obligated to provide equal service under the Telecommunications Act. "Mostly because, I think, from the Clinton administration moving forward until 2015 we had a light-touch regulatory framework that created incredible value for the American consumer". Over 800 tech start-ups, including Engine Advocacy, Y Combinator and Techstars wrote to Pai, asking that net neutrality rules not be reversed.

Under Title II the internet is considered a utility such as phone or water. Under rules enacted during the Obama administration, the likes of Comcast and Verizon - which offer their own video services they'd very much like subscribers to use - can't slow down Netflix, can't block YouTube, and can't charge Spotify extra to stream faster than Pandora.

Companies say they don't want the stricter regulation that comes with the net neutrality rules.

His plan, though still vague in details, is a sharp change from the approach taken by the last F.C.C. administration, which approved rules governing a concept known as net neutrality in 2015. "It's nearly as if the special interests pushing Title II weren't trying to solve a real problem but instead looking for an excuse to achieve their longstanding goal of forcing the Internet under the federal government's control".

The commission will make a provisional vote on Pai's plan on May 18th, after which a period of public comment will follow.

Pai's plan so far lacks many specifics, but it marks the start of what's expected to be a new months-long debate.

"Depriving the FCC of its ongoing, forward-looking oversight of the broadband industry amounts to a dereliction of duty at a time when guaranteeing an open internet is more critical than ever", Senator Bill Nelson of the Senate Commerce Committee said in a statement.

  • Zachary Reyes