FCC Chairman Ajit Pai presented a proposal to officially roll back the net neutrality rules enforced by the previous administration. During a speech in Washington, he said the plan would be voted on May 18 by the Commission.
Some of the measures that comprise Pai’s proposal include reclassifying the Internet under Title I instead of Title II and limiting the government’s oversight and reach of regulations over the service. The full text of the plan will be published online on Thursday.
Telecom companies and mobile carriers have expressed their support for the move, while tech giants, start-ups, and Democratic representatives have opposed. After commissioners vote on the proposal, it will be open to public debate over the next couple of months.
Why does the new FCC want to repeal net neutrality rules?
Ajit Pai and company argue the actions taken by the Commission under Tom Wheeler’s leadership were unnecessary. The rules imposed in 2015 fixed something that was not broken according to the new Chairman.
During a speech titled “The Future of Internet Freedom” given at the Newseum in Washington, the head of the FCC said the original net neutrality push was all about politics:
“NOTHING ABOUT THE INTERNET WAS BROKEN IN 2015. NOTHING ABOUT THE LAW HAD CHANGED. AND THERE WASN’T A RASH OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS BLOCKING CUSTOMERS FROM ACCESSING THE CONTENT, APPLICATIONS, OR SERVICES OF THEIR CHOICE.”
The FCC is supposed to work separately from the U.S. government, not subjected to party narratives and lines of action. Pai says the move toward open internet responded to Democratic interests instead of bipartisan agreements that have long ruled the organ.
What would the end of the open internet mean for consumers?
When the FCC reclassified the internet under Title II as a utility, it also attributed itself the regulatory oversight of the service. It passed rules that stopped ISPs and carriers from imposing data caps and throttling on certain content.
The new Commission argues this had led to a decrease in growth, and that a truly open internet needs loose regulation to foster competition in the industry. Providers can then offer more and better options to consumers.
What Pai and supporting Commissioners failed to address was that loosening up on companies like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and others could result in the resurgence of these questionable practices.
As the Chairman himself noted, this is only the start of the discussion. Things will only get more heated from here on, and the Commission vote on May 18 will open the hazier elements of net neutrality up to the public opinion to clear them out.