FCC Chairman To Propose Reversing 'Net Neutrality' Rules

Two U.S. senators declined to offer advice on whether the sole Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission should skip agency meetings in a bid to stop efforts to weaken or repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rule.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is speaking Wednesday "to announce his proposal to roll back the massive Internet regulatory regime" issued under the Obama administration, according to an FCC official email seen by Reuters.

"Going forward, we can not stick with regulations from the Great Depression meant to micromanage Ma Bell". "Instead, we need rules that focus on growth and infrastructure investment, rules that expand high-speed internet access everywhere".

Pai didn't provide a lot of detail about his proposal during a speech Wednesday, but during the rulemaking, the FCC will seek public comment on how best to move forward with new net neutrality rules or guidelines, he said.

AT&T has agreed to acquire Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. Title II is something like the foundation of the current net-neutrality rules.

The FCC's announcements today suggest they want to step back and allow concentrated market players to pick winners and losers online.

Broadband providers and Republican lawmakers have opposed the rules, saying the reclassification adds unnecessary regulation that deters deployment and other investment in their networks. But the system internet providers want seems to rely on trusting them to adhere by net neutrality guidance, rather than putting in enforceable lines that they're legally bound not to cross. While these groups generally support the Title II classification, they aren't attached to it - what they're attached to is net neutrality, and they're often indifferent to the legal situation as long as the rules get implemented.

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Net (LSE: 0LN0.L - news) neutrality has been the subject of legal and political battles for over a decade, with both sides claiming to represent a "free and open" internet.

A court a year ago upheld the FCC's decision to apply Title II, ruling for the agency in a lawsuit brought by Comcast, AT&T and other broadband providers. We recognize that our customers demand access to the content, applications, and devices of their choice and as a competitive wireless carrier, we always strive to meet our customers' needs. "Nothing about the law had changed", Pai said Wednesday afternoon in a speech delivered at the Newseum. Earlier this month, he relinquished power to oversees ISP privacy practices to the FTC after Congress repealed a set of privacy rules, a product of net neutrality, meant to keep internet providers from selling consumers' online activity.

There has been no serious or sincere popular outcry for eliminating net neutrality from consumers or from honest advocates for innovation.

The government may downgrade federal prohibitions on anti-consumer and anticompetitive actions to voluntary commitments by internet service providers. Some studies have concurred with that assertion, though net-neutrality advocates say it's hard to separate the effect of Title II in a vacuum from the wider economic trends of the telecoms industry.

Pai said he will make the full text of his proposal available to the public on Thursday. The first time the FCC tried that, the commission found out it wasn't possible.

Opponents of the FCC's regulation also argue that the 2015 decision to classify ISPs as "common carriers" similar to telephone companies violates the FCC's congressional charter and has deterred ISPs from upgrading their networks for fear of direct price regulation by the agency.

  • Rita Burton