The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday announced plans to end Title II classification of internet service providers — known as “net neutrality” — enacted under the Obama administration.
Chairman Ajit Pai added in a statement that the full draft will be released in coming days in preparation for a vote at the FCC’s December meeting. He argued that “heavy-handed, utility-style regulations” stifled investment in the telecom sector and said the proposal would “abandon this failed approach and return to the long-standing consensus that served consumers well for decades.”
Under the draft order, Pai said, internet service providers would be required “to be transparent about their practices” and would return enforcement of ISPs to the Federal Trade Commission.
“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.
Wireless industry group CTIA praised the proposal and predicted it would drive “drive billions of new dollars into mobile broadband networks.”
“The FCC’s critical action will allow our vibrantly competitive wireless market to drive new innovation and services for consumers,” said CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker.
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