Rep. Peters Blasts Trump FCC Chairman's Push to End 'Net Neutrality'

22 November, 2017, 01:10 | Author: Randy Kelley
  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai during an open meeting of the commission in Washington on Nov. 16 2017

In May, the FCC approved Pai's proposal to review the Open Internet order passed under the previous U.S. government in 2015, which laid down a number of rules for ISPs aimed at ensuring net neutrality.

FCC chief Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump in January, said the commission will vote at a December 14 meeting on his plan to rescind the so-called net neutrality rules championed by Democratic former President Barack Obama that treated internet service providers like public utilities. In place of the existing rules, he added, the FCC would "simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices". Netflix, which had been vocal in support of the rules in 2015, said in January that weaker net neutrality wouldn't hurt it because it's now too popular with users for broadband providers to interfere.

"Businesses large and small will have a clearer path to invest more in our nation's broadband infrastructure under Chairman Pai's leadership", the post continued.

The dispute over net neutrality has been the subject of several court battles, with backers arguing rules are needed to guard against powerful broadband firms like Comcast and AT&T acting as "gatekeepers" which can punish rivals. Then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called it a victory, saying the rules allowed the commission to act as an Internet "referee".

With three Republican and two Democratic commissioners, the move to end net neutrality is all but certain to be approved.

The proposal puts Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, into position to kill a rule that survived a court challenge from broadband providers previous year.

Matt Wood of the consumer group Free Press said the new initiative was a "massive giveaway to the handful of media conglomerates" which control broadband.

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AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have said that repealing the rules could lead to billions of dollars in additional broadband investment and eliminate the possibility that a future presidential administration could regulate internet pricing.

- FCC is expected to share the full text of its plans tomorrow, just a day before Thanksgiving, hoping that not many eyes will catch the bad news.

"Internet companies, innovative startups, and millions of internet users depend on these common-sense protections that prevent blocking or throttling of internet traffic, segmenting the internet into paid fast lanes and slow lanes, and other discriminatory practices", Google said in a blog post at the time.

Consumers Union called the proposal "an enormous loss for consumers" that "would give internet service providers more power and control over the websites we can visit".

Verizon said it believed the FCC "will reinstate a framework that protects consumers' access to the open internet, without forcing them to bear the heavy costs from unnecessary regulation".

"The open internet uplifts the voices of people of color and racial-justice advocates, activists and dissenters of all stripes, independent content creators and journalists, and entrepreneurs".

"This move would likely lead to consumers paying higher prices for the internet access and speeds they have today", Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel at Consumers Union, said in an emailed message.

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