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ICYMI: FCC chair announces plan to roll back net neutrality


Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Varadaraj Pai testifies on Wednesday, July 19, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  Tribune News Service

The Federal Communications Commission announced Nov. 21 it plans to eliminate regulations passed under former President Barack Obama, regulations which classified the internet as a public utility. 

The policies, commonly referred to as net neutrality, prevent internet service providers from throttling or giving favorable speeds to certain sites. Net neutrality regulations are opposed by most large internet service providers, like Verizon and AT&T, and championed by companies like Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company. 

A Mozilla/Ipsos poll earlier this year found a majority of U.S. voters supported some form of net neutrality. In theory, net neutrality prevents ISPs from colluding with website providers to skew or tier pricing for coverage. 

The regulations maintaining net neutrality, which are seen by proponents as free speech enhancing, have been on the cutting board for President Trump’s administration, which has touted itself as being pro-deregulation. 

Trump appointed Ajit Pai, an opponent of net neutrality, as FCC chair soon after his inauguration. 

Pai said in an FCC press release Nov. 21 net neutrality has been a failed approach since the Obama administration set it in place in 2015. 

"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet," Pai said in the release. "Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that's best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate."

Internet Association, a trade association for global internet companies on public policy regarding their regulations, issued the following statement on the announcement of Pai’s plan to gut net neutrality protections.

“Chairman Pai’s proposal, if implemented, represents the end of net neutrality as we know it and defies the will of millions of Americans who support the 2015 Open Internet Order," the association said in the release. "This proposal undoes nearly two decades of bipartisan agreement on baseline net neutrality principles that protect Americans’ ability to access the entire internet. The 2015 Order created bright-line, enforceable net neutrality protections that guarantee consumers access to the entire internet and preserve competition online. This proposal fails to achieve any of these objectives. 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. Internet Association and our members will continue our work to ensure net neutrality protections remain the law of the land.”

Members of the association include Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Amazon, Groupon and Netflix.

Jesse Naranjo

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