US Agency to Vote on Overturning Obama-Era 'Net Neutrality' Rules

US Agency to Vote on Overturning Obama-Era 'Net Neutrality' Rules

Pai began circulating his proposal among the FCC commissioners on Tuesday.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it plans to roll back regulations on internet service providers that govern how major companies distribute online access.

The FCC will vote on the repeal at its monthly hearing December 14.

A federal appeals court upheld the rules in 2016 after broadband providers sued.

But critics say the end of net neutrality would spell bad news for consumers, as well as for free speech. Apple filed a comment on the proposed plan in support of strong open internet policies, as did millions of others. These specifically ban the practices of throttling or blocking internet connections according to the application, content or device used or offering paid prioritisation of certain traffic, for both mobile and fixed broadband providers. Verizon also favors repeal and less regulation.

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Pai said the Federal Trade Commission would take on some duties for ensuringbroadband providers treat web traffic fairly. That's good for shareholders, he said, but not good for consumers, who might see higher costs passed through to them.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, called Pai's move "an all-out assault on the entrepreneurship, innovation and competition at the heart of the internet". Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon also participated. While Netflix has cut deals to ensure its movies and TV shows reach your home without interference, smaller companies may not have deep enough pockets to do the same. One study found 98.5 percent were opposed to killing net neutrality.

The Internet Association, a trade group with members including Netflix, Facebook, Google and Inc., said "This proposal undoes almost two decades of bipartisan agreement on baseline net neutrality principles that protect Americans' ability to access the entire internet". Since President Trump appointed him as FCC chairman in January, Pai has made reversing the rules a key part of his deregulatory agenda.

"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet", Pai said in a statement Tuesday. "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".

"In a few short weeks, the big broadband providers will be free to double their prices, extract extra tolls on fast lanes for online businesses, and track and sell their customers' web browsing activity", said Gigi Sohn, ex-counselor to former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, in a statement published to her website. The plan includes reversing the rule that now treats broadband as a utility, removes protections that keep ISPs from blocking or slowing service and will shift some oversight power over to the FTC.