November 23, 2017
*-- FCC plans to repeal net neutrality rules for Internet service providers --*
The Federal Communications Commission plans to vote on Chairman Chairman Ajit Pai's recommendation to loosen regulation on Internet service providers.
On Dec. 14, the commissioners will vote on whether to roll back regulations instituted in 2015 for companies that include AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.
Instead, the FCC, under Pai's suggestion, would return to the "light-touch, market-based framework that unleashed the digital revolution and benefited consumers here and around the world," the chairman said in a statement.
The so-called net neutrality rules prevent broadband companies from slowing down or blocking any sites or apps.
Under Pai's plan -- called the "The Restoring Internet Freedom Order" -- 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," he said.
The FCC chairman said his plan will put the Federal Trade Commission -- "the most experienced privacy cop ... back on the beat to protect consumers' online privacy.
He said the FTC will once again "police" service providers, protect consumers and promote competition like before 2015."
Pai is among three Republicans on the five-member FCC.
"In the absence of a market failure, the constitution doesn't permit the FCC to treat the information superhighway or any other institution of the press like a public utility," Fred Campbell, director of the think tank Tech Knowledge, said in a statement.
Telecom and cable companies have said other Internet-based companies, including Google and Netflix, that collect data have an unfair advantage because are only not overseen by the FTC.
Netflix and Google as well as Etsy, Vimeo, Reddit and Amazon have opposed the changes. They have teamed up with consumer advocacy groups, including Fight for the Future, Demand Progress and the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The Internet should be competitive and open," Google said on its website. "That's how it works today and how it has always worked. It's a level playing field, where new entrants and established players can reach users on an equal footing. If Internet access providers can block some services and cut special deals that prioritize some companies' content over others, that would threaten the innovation that makes the Internet awesome."
Former Democratic FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who drafted the 2015 net neutrality rules, told The Washington Post "if you like your cable company, you'll love what this does for the Internet.
"The job of the FCC is to represent the consumer," he said. "Tragically, this decision is only for the benefit of the largely monopoly services that deliver the Internet to the consumer."