FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is cutting right to the heart of the matter. After months of questions about his plans for net neutrality, Pai on Wednesday laid out plans to repeal net neutrality’s very underpinnings: Title II.
In comments delivered at Newseum, Pai said he has introduced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to “reverse the mistake of Title II and return to the light-touch regulatory framework that served our nation so well.”
“Make no mistake about it: this is a fight that we intend to wage and it is a fight that we are going to win,” Pai commented.
As outlined by Pai, the move would return classification of broadband service – currently regulated as a Title II telecommunications service – to a Title I information service. Additionally, Pai’s proposal calls for the elimination of the “internet conduct standard” included in the 2015 Title II order. It would also seek comment on how the Commission should approach the “bright-line” rules adopted in 2015.
“Some have called on the FCC to reverse Title II immediately, through what is known as a Declaratory Ruling. But I don’t believe that is the right path forward,” Pai said. “This decision should be made through an open and transparent process in which every American can share his or her views.”
The full text of the proposal will be released tomorrow afternoon for the public’s review before being brought before the Commission for a vote at its May 18 meeting, Pai indicated.
Pai claimed the repeal of Title II will help bring high-speed internet access to more Americans, create jobs, boost competition, and provide “the best path” toward protecting online privacy. Rather than protecting Americans and leveling the playing field, Pai argued Title II regulation has resulted in reduced industry investment and by extension cost the country as many as 100,000 jobs. Title II has “kept countless consumers from getting better internet access or getting access period,” he said.
And Pai also addressed Title II defenders, noting that the internet was already “free and open” before Title II and arguing that government regulation is “no friend of free speech.”
Pai was backed up by fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who said the move was part of an effort to restore “sanity” and “evidence-based decision making” to the Commission. O’Rielly called Title II an “archaic” regime that “should never have been imposed in the first place.”
“When the FCC rammed through the Title II Order two years ago, I expressed hope that we would look back at that vote ‘as an aberration, a temporary deviation from the bipartisan path that ha[d] served us so well.’ And I voiced my confidence that the Title II Order’s days were already numbered,” Pai said. “At the FCC’s next meeting on May 18, we will take a significant step towards making that prediction a reality. And later this year, I am confident that we will finish the job.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations