Protestors in support of Net Neutrality
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On Tuesday, the FCC moved to repeal Net Neutrality rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing websites, or charging a premium for “fast lanes” for specific services or higher quality streaming.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who Trump appointed this year, officially proposed the revocation of these rules, which treat internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T as public utilities. The rules could be scrapped as soon as this December when the FCC meets to vote on Pai’s proposal. The vote is expected to go in favor of Pai’s proposal.
“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 in a statement. “As a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition.”
Pai and his fellow opponents of Net Neutrality argue that the rules, which were passed under the Obama administration in 2015, hamper competition and lead to worse internet access overall by restricting internet providers’ behavior. “These heavy handed regulations have made it harder for the private sector to build out the networks especially in rural America, and so by going back to the previous regulations more, a more light touch approach, the Internet access is going to become better,” Pai told Fox News Radio in an interview.
Supporters of Net Neutrality, on the other hand, argue that the rules are essential for an open, democratic, and competitive internet. Allowing service providers to throttle speeds, or give some sites advantages over others, makes it harder for new entrants to enter the field and ultimately hurts consumers, they say.
“The net neutrality protections have advanced competition and innovation, created more startups and entrepreneurs, and have been judicially approved. Repealing these protections is an assault on what has made the internet what it is… an open and dynamic platform,” California Rep. Anna Eshoo said in a statement.
In July, millions voiced their support of Net Neutrality in a Day of Action meant to show widespread endorsement of the rules. Companies like Netflix, Twitter and Reddit built pro-Net Neutrality elements into their websites and apps that day. But with Pai’s move Tuesday, it appears those efforts may largely have been for naught.