FCC to vote on repealing net neutrality Principles
The mind of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission unveiled plans on Tuesday to repeal landmark 2015 rules that illegal internet providers from impeding consumer access to internet content in a move that promises to recast the electronic landscape.
FCC chief Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump in January, said the commission will vote in a Dec. 14 meeting on his plan to rescind the so-called net-neutrality rules championed by Democratic former president Barack Obama that treated online service providers such as public utilities.
The principles barred broadband providers from blocking or slowing access to content or charging customers more for specific content. They were meant to guarantee a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to internet content and protect against broadband-service suppliers from favouring their own articles.
The action marks a victory for large internet-service providers like ATamp;T Inc., Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. compared the principles and provides them sweeping powers to determine what web content consumers can get and at what cost.
It represents a setback for Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc., which had urged Mr. Pai to not rescind the rules.
With three Republican and two Democratic commissioners, the move is all but certain to be accepted. Mr. Trump, a Republican, expressed his opposition to net neutrality in 2014 before the regulations were executed, calling it a “power grab” by Mr. Obama.
Mr. Pai said his proposal would prevent state and local governments from making their own net-neutrality rules because net service is “inherently an interstate servic” The pre-emption is the most likely to handcuff Democratic-governed states and localities that might have considered their own strategies to protect consumers’ equivalent access to online content.
“The FCC will no longer be in the company of micromanaging business models and pre-emptively banning applications and services and products which could be pro-competitive,” Mr. Pai stated in an interview, adding that the Obama government had sought to select winners and losers and exercised “heavy-handed” regulation of the net.
Tom Wheeler, who led the FCC under Mr. Obama and advocated for the net-neutrality rules, known as the planned repeal “a shameful sham and sellout. For this FCC and its leadership, this proposal increases hypocrisy to new heights.”
Canada is moving in the opposite direction on online policy, with well-established legislation which prevents net providers from giving others or themselves an “undue preference” and principles introduced in 2009 to limit internet traffic management practices like slowing or blocking content.
In April, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) prohibited the practice :zero-rating” data charges, a move that originated from complaints within Videotron Ltd.’s Unlimited Music streaming support, which enabled certain high-paying subscribers to listen to music providers on their telephones without making a dent in their monthly data limit.
“If Internet suppliers price content otherwise, they’re, in a way, influencing you to select certain content over other,” the CRTC wrote in a policy document.
Mr. Pai’s decision paves the way for more widespread adoption of these pricing tactics in america, a prospect that has Canadian experts concerned about the follow-on impact here.
“Canadian business will be yelling at the CRTC if zero score is permitted in the U.S. and remains illegal here,” Gregory Taylor, assistant professor of communication, media and film at the University of Calgary told The planet in February, when it became apparent Mr. Pai was U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice to head the bureau.
ATamp;T, Comcast and Verizon have said that repealing the rules can lead to billions of dollars in additional broadband investment and remove the chance that a future presidential government could regulate internet pricing.
The Internet Association, representing major technology companies including Alphabet and Facebook, said Mr. Pai’s proposal “signifies the conclusion of net neutrality as we understand it and defies the will of countless Americans.”
Mr. Pai’s suggestion would require internet-service suppliers to disclose if they allow blocking or slowing of customer web access or allow so-called net fast lanes to ease a clinic known as paid prioritization of charging for specific content. Such disclosure will make it much easier for another agency, the Federal Trade Commission, to act against internet-service suppliers that fail to disclose such behavior to customers, Mr. Pai said.
A U.S. appeals court upheld the legality of the net neutrality regulations, which were challenged in a lawsuit led by telecommunications business trade association US Telecom.
The team praised Pai’s decision to eliminate “antiquated, restrictive regulations” to “pave the way for broadband community investment, expansion and upgrades.”
The FCC’s repeal is sure to draw a legal challenge from supporters of net neutrality.
Nancy Pelosi, the top U.S. House of Representatives Democrat, said the FCC move would hurt consumers and chill competition, saying the agency “has established an all-purpose attack on the entrepreneurship, competition and innovation at the center of the net.”
Mr. Pai, that has moved quickly to reverse numerous regulatory activities since getting FCC chairman, is pushing a broad deregulatory program. Mr. Pai said he hadn’t shared his strategies on the rollback with the White House in advance or been led to reverse net neutrality by White House officials.
Language in the new proposal would provide the FCC less ability to oversee the net. The FCC granted initial approval to Mr. Pai’s program in May, but had left open several important questions including whether to keep any legal requirements restricting internet providers run.
His plan also would remove the “net conduct standard,” which gave the FCC far-reaching discretion to prohibit internet service provider practices deemed to violate a list of variables and sought to tackle future discriminatory conduct.
With files from The Globe’s Shane Dingman and Christine Dobby
Courtesy: The Globe And Mail