The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is proposing to overturn the 2015 Obama-era net neutrality rules, setting off a fight over the future of the internet.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposes to repeal the "Title II" regulations and return the U.S. to the "bipartisan, light-touch framework that preserved a free and open Internet for almost 20 years." This will be accomplished through a transparent process, with public input.
According to the FCC, the prior Administration's "Title II" solution has failed, as investment in broadband networks declined,
along with plans to deploy new and upgraded broadband infrastructure. In addition, the FCC claims that Americans' online privacy was weakened because Title II "completely stripped the FTC of its authority over broadband providers' privacy and data security practices."
Chairman Pai says tha his plan will restore "Internet Freedom" by repealing Obama-era Internet regulations will benefit all Americans. Here's how:
- It will spur broadband deployment throughout the country and thus bring better, faster Internet service to more Americans.
- It will create jobs by putting Americans to work deploying broadband networks and by creating the networks and online opportunities necessary for additional job growth and economic opportunity.
- It will boost competition and choice in the broadband marketplace.
- It will secure online privacy by putting the FTC back in charge of broadband providers' privacy practices.
- It will restore Internet Freedom by ending government micromanagement and returning to the bipartisan regulatory framework that worked well for decades.
The entire text of Chairman Pai's proposal will be made available for the public's review long before the FCC votes.
Democrats, activists, and web companies are already coming out in opposition to Pai's plans. Senator Bill Nelson, ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement that "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."
The Internet Association, a group that represents more than 40 top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Netflix, said there was no reason to change the rules. "The current FCC net neutrality rules are working and these consumer protections should not be changed," said the group's CEO, Michael Beckerman. "Consumers pay for access to the entire internet free from blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization."