FCC head eyes end for net neu­tral­ity

Sunday Star - - BUSINESS -

WASH­ING­TON (TNS) — The chair­man of the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion on Tues­day pro­posed re­peal­ing tough net neu­tral­ity rules for on­line traf­fic, fol­low­ing through on a prom­ise ear­lier this year to roll back the con­tro­ver­sial Obama-era reg­u­la­tions.

Ajit Pai, a Repub­li­can ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, op­posed the rules when they were en­acted in 2014, when the FCC was con­trolled by Democrats.

“Un­der my pro­posal, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will stop mi­cro­manag­ing the In­ter­net,” Pai said in a writ­ten state­ment.

“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,” he said.

Un­der Pai’s plan, which he said would be pub­licly re­leased Wed­nes­day ahead of a Dec. 14 vote, the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion would take over the job of polic­ing in­ter­net ser­vice providers for on­line pri­vacy.

Pai called for a re­peal in April and the Repub­li­can-con­trolled FCC voted 2-1 along party lines a month later to be­gin a for­mal rule-mak­ing process.

The agency now has a 3-2 Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity. Pai’s two GOP col­leagues, Mike O’Rielly and Bren­dan Carr, are ex­pected to sup­port the re­peal.

The agency re­ceived more than 22 mil­lion com­ments about the fate of the rules, which are sup­ported by pub­lic in­ter­est groups and lib­eral ac­tivists but op­posed by telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies and con­ser­va­tives.

The rules pro­hibit AT&T Inc., Com­cast Corp., Char­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc. and other In­ter­net ser­vice providers from block­ing web­sites, slow­ing con­nec­tion speeds and charg­ing ex­tra for faster de­liv­ery of cer­tain con­tent.

To en­force the rules, the FCC clas­si­fied broad­band as a more highly reg­u­lated util­ity-like ser­vice un­der Ti­tle 2 of fed­eral telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions law. That al­lowed some of the over­sight to shift to the FCC from the FTC.

AT&T, other tele­com com­pa­nies and in­dustr y trade groups sued to block the rules, ar­gu­ing the FCC ex­ceeded its au­thor­ity in ap­prov­ing the reg­u­la­tions.

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