Will Internet Service Providers Control What You See After Net Neutrality?
On Tuesday, November 21, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the FCC will be moving forward with a plan to repeal Net Neutrality regulations instituted in 2015 during the Obama administration.
In his official statement, Pai writes: “Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. 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.”
Pai argued that Net Neutrality regulations have hampered innovation. He says the repeal will “restore Internet freedom” and benefit consumers. In reality, they prohibit Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from intentionally speeding up or slowing down access to websites and apps.
Who Wants Net Neutrality Regulations Repealed?
If Net Neutrality laws handcuffed innovation and were detrimental to consumers, most consumers, innovative tech companies and advocacy groups would be in favor of their removal and be happy about this decision. They are not. The biggest proponents to the end of Net Neutrality are the telecommunications corporations and their lobbyists.
Some lawmakers agree, arguing that making ISPs subject to Title II regulations was an overreach by the government. Lawyers for ISPs like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have been fighting the regulations in court since 2015. Both the US Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court have rejected arguments that the regulations violated first amendment rights.
Pai, a former Verizon employee, is a vocal regulation opponent and was a dissenting voice in the 2015 FCC decision. The deregulation announcement was no surprise after Pai was appointed chairman by President Trump in 2017. Tech giants like Google and Facebook fought against the possibility of rolling back the 2015 regulations earlier this year with a campaign to fight the proposal on July 12, designated “Internet-wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.”
Net Neutrality Vote Expected December 14
The FCC will release its full proposal on November 22. Some argue the timing is a means of “burying the news” by releasing it the day before Thanksgiving, a busy holiday travel day. However, the decision will not be voted on until December 14, giving opponents three weeks to make their voices heard.