The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it plans to repeal regulations that protected equal access to the internet, according to the New York Times. In other words, the FCC is moving forward with its plan to gut net neutrality.
The proposal was put forth by Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and it would dismantle the landmark rules that prevented internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to certain websites, as well as giving preferential treatment to sites and consumers who paid an extra premium fee. The landmark net neutrality rules were set in place under the Obama administration in 2015.
“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said in a statement, adding that the FCC would simply require ISPs to be “transparent” about their practices.
The FCC’s proposal is widely expected to pass during a meeting on Dec. 14. Republicans, who support Pai’s plan, control three of the commission’s five seats — and the vote will likely be 3-to-2 along party lines.
Republicans and ISP juggernauts like AT&T, Verizon Comcast, who all stand to benefit from the sweeping repeals, have largely supported Pai’s proposal. On the other end, proponents of net neutrality include Democrats, consumer advocacy groups and internet companies like Google — which said it was “disappointed” in the proposal related today.
“The job of the FCC is to represent the consumer. Tragically, this decision is only for the benefit of the largely monopoly services that deliver internet to the consumer,” said former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who helped draft the regulations in 2015.
While major telecom and broadband giants stand to see a win for Pai’s proposal, the losers will likely be internet sites and services, who will have to appeal to ISPs to get their content in front of consumers. Customers, too, may see an increase in their bills for the highest quality streaming.
The FCC’s proposal may not be the end of the net neutrality battle, however. Many Congressional Democrats believe that Pai’s proposal will be challenged in court, and is unlikely to survive. The plan also puts pressure on legislators from both sides of the aisle to come up with bipartisan federal legislation that would supersede any rules set in place by the FCC, the Washington Post reported.
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