The chairman of the FCC plans to vote on a proposal to roll back Title II classification of internet service providers — or “net neutrality” — at the commission’s December meeting.
Under a draft order to be released in coming days, Chairman Ajit Pai said that internet service providers would be required “to be transparent about their practices” and would return enforcement of ISPs to the Federal Trade Commission.
Pai argued that the current rules, enacted during the Obama administration, are “heavy-handed, utility-style regulations” that stifled investment in the telecom sector. He said his proposal would “abandon this failed approach and return to the long-standing consensus that served consumers well for decades.”
“Working with my colleagues, I look forward to returning to the light-touch, market-based framework that unleashed the digital revolution and benefited consumers here and around the world,” Pai said in a statement.
The American Cable Association praised the proposal and said it would generate investment “at no cost to an ‘open internet.’”
“The ISPs that are ACA members have always stood steadfast in providing their customers with unfettered access to the Internet, regardless of whether there were regulations on the books,” ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka said in a statement. “Treating your customers well is simply good business, and that practice will not change with this decision.”
Net neutrality, however, is fiercely supported by internet companies and consumer groups worried that internet providers will no longer be required to treat online content equally — and that the FCC proposal could open the door to charging for content or blocking access.
“Consumers have little choice in their ISP, and service providers should not be allowed to use this gatekeeper position at the point of connection to discriminate against websites and apps,” said Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association, whose members include Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
The FCC’s two Democratic members — who are outnumbered by its three Republicans — also immediately criticized the measure. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel responded that it was “ridiculous and offensive to the millions of Americans who use the internet every day,” according to the Associated Press.
Filed Under: Industry regulations