Tech firms winding up for a fight on net neutrality

Report: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Meets With Tech Firms to Seek Feedback on Net Neutrality Rules
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is expected to unveil new net neutrality plans on Wednesday
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27 April, 2017

This, in effect, would leave ISPs with less federal oversight into what they can and cannot do within their networks.

"Verizon issued a statement saying that, while it supports net neutrality, "[it] also supports Chairman Pai's proposal to roll back Title II utility regulation on broadband.

In a speech, Ajit Pai, a former FCC Commissioner under Chairman Tom Wheeler and, under President Trump, Chairman of a tonally different regulator, laid his plan to claw back the consumer protections enabled by Title II. He said the FCC will "expunge net neutrality regulations from the Internet".

AT&T has agreed to acquire Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.

The plan revokes a rule that classified the internet as a utility - much like electricity and water - considering the importance of the internet and people's dependence on it.

In a winding speech, often peppered with sarcasm and references to conservative talking points like the Drudge Report website and the incompetence of the Venezuelan government, Pai said he would reclassify the internet through Title I of the Communications Act, rather than Title II.

Supporters say the rules are needed to keep network owners from unfairly squelching rivals and discouraging web startups.

FCCPai did not give a direct, one-to-one replacement for the current rules. After that, the agency would collect comments from the public and the stakeholders before crafting a detailed approach and scheduling another agency vote to adopt it.

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But opponents of the repeal say that there is no reason to remove the classification, and that competition amongst the US service providers has thrived since the change.

Beyond that, consumer groups, like Fight for the Future, argue that Pai's new rules could potentially allow for internet censorship, the exact opposite claim that Pai himself made.

Over time, the FCC established so-called net neutrality principles that state that Internet providers shouldn't block or slow down any websites or apps (no blocking or discrimination) and shouldn't charge extra for faster loading (no paid prioritization). Pai scrapped that decision shortly after becoming chairman, however. "Earlier today I shared with my fellow commissioners a proposal to reverse the mistake of Title II and return to the light touch framework that served us so well during the Clinton Administration, Bush administration, and first six years of the Obama administration", Pai said in a speech today in Washington.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said on Tuesday the top US telecommunications regulator would launch a "comprehensive review" of media regulations and overhaul rules that restrict consolidation among media companies, potentially opening the door to a wave of deals among broadcasters and newspapers. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), have questioned whether the rules slow investment, pointing to the latest US Census data showing that investments from telecom companies were up from 2014 to 2015.

Still, the proposal does not come as a surprise. Going after the Obama-era FCC's signature regulation is his most aggressive move yet in that direction.

Pai also touted the FCC's plans to overhaul the government's' media ownership rules, saying numerous rules did not match the modern marketplace, "including one dating back to 1975".

Pai said he will offer a reversal of the 2015 order, to be voted on by the FCC next month, to return to "a light-touch regulatory framework", which he argued has "enabled the internet to grow and evolve beyond nearly anyone's expectations". Given that Republicans have a two-to-one majority on the commission (including Pai), it will likely pass.


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