FCC looks to scrap net neutrality rules, report says
U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is on Tuesday expected to unveil plans to dismantle Obama-era net neutrality protections that prohibit internet service providers from slowing certain websites while allowing paid "fast lanes" for others.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Politico reports Pai will push for a total repeal of core net neutrality regulations, marking a win for telcos like Verizon and Comcast that stand to profit from the change.
News of Pai's supposed plan comes hours after a The Wall Street Journal report suggested Trump's FCC would reveal a final proposal to undo net neutrality protections this week. The commission opened the issue up for public debate less than three months ago, during which time some 22 million comments were lodged.
The proposal to shift the FCC's stance is being backed by Republicans commissioners who view current regulations as invasive to the businesses of internet service providers. Strict rules set up and enforced by the Obama administration stymie investment, which in turn slows the expansion of broadband infrastructure, Republicans argue.
Introduced in 2015 by former FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler, net neutrality regulations classify internet providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act, granting the commission greater oversight over their consumer practices. Pai's proposal is expected to roll back this classification to Title I information services.
Proponents of strong net neutrality rules argue Title II classification allows for an open internet by prohibiting ISPs from engaging in price unsavory practices.
For example, one worry is that providers will charge websites and services a fee for priority speeds, or paid "fast lanes," once neutrality protections are removed. While such measures would be a boon for big firms like video streaming companies, smaller entities looking to establish a foothold would suffer.
Apple weighed in on the subject in August, saying it supports an open internet without artificial barriers. The company urged the FCC to keep net neutrality regulations in place as lifting existing restrictions could allow ISPs to favor one service over another, thus "fundamentally altering the internet as we know it today — to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation."
Along with Apple, other notable tech firms like Amazon, Google, Spotify, Twitter and others threw their weight behind net neutrality in July.
FCC commissioners will vote on the matter in December.