FCC overturns Obama’s internet rules

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A short announcement made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday said that commissioners will vote to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

As Forbes notes, the announcement is no surprise. Ajit Pai, the Republican chairman of the FCC, has long advocated for a “light touch approach” to regulating the internet.

In his announcement, Pai said the Obama-era ruling was a “heavy-handed, utility-style” regulation of the internet, imposed by Democrats.

In announcing the Restoring Internet Freedom order, which was circulated to all the commissioners for a vote on Dec. 14, Pai said the proposal will be shared on Wednesday with the public, and that he believes the Federal Trade Commission is better equipped to police internet service providers than the FCC.

“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,” Pai said. “Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet.”

He added, “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.”

According to The Washington Post, the plan will “give internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use, and at what cost.”

The announcement was applauded by internet providers, such as Jonathan Spalter, CEO of the trade group USTelecom.

“The removal of antiquated, restrictive regulations will pave the way for broadband network investment, expansion and upgrades,” Spalter reportedly said.

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel denounced the announcement in a statement.

“This proposal tears at the foundation of that openness,” Rosenworcel said. “It hands broadband providers the power to decide what voices to amplify, which sites we can visit, what connections we can make, and what communities we create. It throttles access, stalls opportunity, and censors content.”

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, was more supportive of Pai’s announcement, although he feels more needs to be done.

“The last administration’s approach of regulating the internet with depression era phone rules is deeply flawed,” Thune said. “While I support Chairman Pai’s efforts as an improvement, I still strongly believe the only way to create long-term certainty for the internet ecosystem is for Congress to pass a bipartisan law.”

The following video includes an interview with Pai, who explains his stance on net neutrality.

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