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November 21, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission will vote next month on a proposal by chairman Ajit Pai to roll back net neutrality rules.
In April, Pai outlined a plan to reduce the government’s oversight of high-speed internet providers. Two years ago, the commission adopted regulations that treat broadband as a telecommunications service, prohibit blocking and slowing down of web content, and ban internet providers from prioritizing certain traffic.
Pai’s “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” has been circulated to commissioners and will be voted on during the commission’s Dec. 14 meeting.
“Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades,” he said. “Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet. Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them, and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”
The Federal Trade Commission would be charged with policing ISPs, protecting consumers and promoting competition, according to the proposal.
Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler called the proposal a “shameful sham and sellout.”
“A fair and open internet is the backbone of the digital economy,” he said. “The FCC has sold out to the wishes of the companies it is supposed to regulate over the consumers it is supposed to protect. For more than a decade, previous Republican and Democratic FCCs have tried to bring fairness and balance to the delivery of the internet to consumers. Every one of those efforts has been opposed by the corporations that consumers rely on to deliver the internet. Now the Trump FCC has simply cut to the chase, there is no need for the big companies to sue — they’ll just be given everything they want.”
Verizon released a statement in support of Pai’s proposal.
“At Verizon, we continue to strongly support net neutrality and the open internet,” said Kathy Grillo, Verizon’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel, public policy and government affairs. “Our company operates in virtually every segment of the internet. We continue to believe that users should be able to access the internet when, where and how they choose, and our customers will continue to do so. We are also confident that the FCC will reinstate a framework that protects consumers’ access to the open internet, without forcing them to bear the heavy costs from unnecessary regulation that chases away investment and chills innovation. We look forward to reviewing the draft order after it is released.”
Credo, an activist organization, said it has collected signatures from more than 194,000 people…
…asking Pai to preserve net neutrality.
“What we have heard about the rules about to be released confirms our worst fears,” said Brandy Doyle, campaign manager for Credo Action. “Chairman Pai has followed through with his plan to hand control of the internet to corporations. This decision is bad for our economy, our free speech and our democracy, but we won’t stop fighting to protect the free and open internet. The overwhelming majority of Americans want net neutrality. We will continue to fight back against Pai and his corporate cronies until we have a free and open internet for us all.”
In his blog, David Cohen, Comcast’s senior executive vice president, said Pai’s proposal is not the end of net neutrality rules.
“With the FCC transparency requirement and the restoration of the FTC‘s role in overseeing information services, the agencies together will have the authority to take action against any ISP which does not make its open internet practices clearly known to consumers, and if needed enforce against any anti-competitive or deceptive practices,” he said. “Comcast has already made net neutrality promises to our customers, and we will continue to follow those standards, regardless of the regulations in place.”
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