FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is expected to roll out his vision for net neutrality this afternoon, after being hounded by advocates and the media for his views since assuming the top seat in January.
The FCC this morning confirmed Pai will speak on the “Future of Internet Regulation” at 1:30 p.m. ET Wednesday in a speech given at Newseum in Washington DC.
Reuters reported Pai is expected to announce plans to begin a public comment period for a proposal to repeal the net neutrality rules approved two years ago. Pai’s proposal could be up for a preliminary vote at the FCC as soon as the Commission’s May meeting, Reuters sources indicated.
Pai is currently in the majority at the FCC, holding a 2-1 majority with Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly over lone Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
Pai said he’s in favor of a free and open internet, but has frequently touted the need for a “light tough regulatory framework.”
A group of 22 ISPs with 1,000 subscribers or fewer sent a letter to Pai this week expressing their support for rumored efforts to roll back the 2015 regulations. Such a move would “free smaller ISPs from utility regulation while ensuring customers continue to have access to an open internet.”
“We need a return to data-driven policies and not regulatory overreach driven by speculation. Prior to the Commission’s Title II decision, our customers had unfettered access to the internet because, for us, open internet principles were consistent with our ethos and were simply good business,” the group wrote. “Most certainly, should the Commission revisit its classification decision and revise or even repeal its 2015 Open Internet rules, we would continue to provide an open internet experience for our customers – and could do so without suffering the costs of utility-style regulation.”
Net neutrality supporters and public interest advocates, however, have already warned they’re ready to fight any attempts to roll back the rules. Fight for the Future, a digital rights group, called net neutrality “the First Amendment of the internet” and said the FCC’s attempts to scale back the regulations were “playing with fire and potentially opening the floodgates for widespread censorship.” Color of Change chimed in to note that net neutrality has played a key role in contemporary civil rights and equality actions and said gutting of the current rules would “devastate Black communities.”
Additionally, more than 800 startups, innovators, investors, and entrepreneurial support organizations threw their weight behind net neutrality in a letter to the Commission, arguing enforceable net neutrality rules “ensure big cable companies can’t discriminate against people like us.”
Pai’s Wednesday speech can be viewed via live stream here.
Filed Under: Industry regulations