FCC confirms plan to kill net neutrality

The dismantling of hard-fought net neutrality regulations is all but certain, as the FCC on Tuesday revealed its plan to repeal the rules passed under the Obama administration.

The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on the plan Dec. 14, with the Republican-majority agency expected to approve Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal 3 to 2. His draft order is circulating among the commissioners now; he says he will publicly release it Wednesday.

Net neutrality is the principle that all online traffic should be treated equally. Among other things, the rules passed in 2015 had prohibited the establishment of fast and slow lanes on the internet, and disallowed giving preference to some online traffic over others.

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A repeal of the rules is a big victory for cable and internet providers — and has been opposed by many tech companies and internet advocacy groups.

“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 and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Pai is taking the opportunity to repeat his assertions that the net neutrality regulations — established after years of litigation over broadband providers throttling internet speeds and more — are bad for innovation.

He cites industry research that claims broadband investment has decreased because of net neutrality rules, charges that proponents of net neutrality dispute.

Pai’s proposal also notes that regulation of ISPs will be handed over to the Federal Trade Commission instead of the FCC.

Net neutrality advocates are outraged, and plans for protests are underway.

“Internet rights are civil rights,” said Jay Stanley, American Civil Liberties Union senior policy analyst, in a statement. “Gutting net neutrality will have a devastating effect on free speech online. Without it, gateway corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will have too much power to mess with the free flow of information.”

Fight for the Future is planning a nationwide protest at Verizon stores, including in San Francisco, Dec. 7, a week before the planned FCC vote. Pai, who has also worked for the Department of Justice, is a former lawyer for Verizon.

“Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents,” said Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future. “The corrupt bureaucrats trying to kill net neutrality are hoping to avoid public backlash by burying the news over the Holiday weekend.”

This story will be updated on the Mercury News.


Photo: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai testifies about the fiscal year 2018 budget request during an Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 20, 2017. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • Dave

    Elimination of net-neutrality will be the end to a vibrant open Internet, but companies like Comcast and AT&T love it so they can promote their streaming content and block all other streaming content they choose. The best way around this will be the birth of new ISPs that promote net-neutrality. I’m hoping Google WiFi will intervene to fight this terrible assault on the free and open Internet.

    • disqus_9ktEYi3wyX

      This move is a perfect example of the Carlin thesis of late comedian George Carlin, and his well-known rant on “the owners” of the country who control it all and want it all…