Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today made good on his long-standing pledge to tackle regulations established in the last administration designed to protect the distribution of internet content.
On Tuesday Pai distributed a draft of his suggested rule changes under the auspices of the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” to the other commissioners at the FCC.
The move sets up a December vote at the FCC that could have broad ramifications for the entire internet. Under the rules established by the Obama Administration, internet providers had to provide open access to their networks for all digital content.
The new rules would give network providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon (which owns Oath, which owns TechCrunch), sweeping new power to throttle distribution of certain content … and conversely charge more for better access.
In a statement Pai argued that the regulations imposed by the Obama Administration “depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.”
The new rules would only require that internet providers “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.”
Additional regulatory oversight would be handed over to the Federal Trade Commission under Pai’s new rulemaking.
“Notably, my proposal will put the federal government’s most experienced privacy cop, the FTC, back on the beat to protect consumers’ online privacy,” Pai wrote.
Here’s the full statement below:
“For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.
“But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake. It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.
“Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades. 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.
“Additionally, as a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015. Notably, my proposal will put the federal government’s most experienced privacy cop, the FTC, back on the beat to protect consumers’ online privacy.
“Speaking of transparency, when the prior FCC adopted President Obama’s heavy-handed Internet regulations, it refused to let the American people see that plan until weeks after the FCC’s vote. This time, it’ll be different. Specifically, I will publicly release my proposal to restore Internet freedom tomorrow—more than three weeks before the Commission’s December 14 vote.
“Working with my colleagues, I look forward to returning to the light-touch, market-based framework that unleashed the digital revolution and benefited consumers here and around the world.”
For a counterpoint to Pai’s puffery, check out this piece from John Oliver:
This story is still developing….
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