FCC Chief Ajit Pai develops plans to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules

“Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai laid out preliminary plans to roll back the agency’s net neutrality rules in a meeting this week with trade associations, according to several people familiar with the matter,” John D. McKinnon reports for The Wall Street Journal. “The plans appear aimed at preserving the basic principles of net neutrality but shifting enforcement to the Federal Trade Commission, while undoing what Republican critics regard as the regulatory overreach of the FCC’s rules.”

“The FCC created the rules during the Obama administration,” McKinnon reports. “The regulations have been criticized by telecommunications companies, as well as Mr. Pai and other Republicans, who say the rules are heavy-handed and could discourage investment in broadband”

“Under federal law, the FTC lost much of its oversight of broadband providers when the FCC adopted its net neutrality policy, because the FCC rules reclassified broadband providers as common carriers subject to the agency’s oversight,” McKinnon reports. “Mr. Pai’s plans likely would reverse that reclassification eventually, so the FTC again would have jurisdiction over the telecommunications carriers. To preserve the basic tenets of net neutrality, the plans would require broadband providers to pledge to abide by net neutrality principles such as no blocking or paid prioritization of internet traffic. That would allow the FTC to go after violators for deceptive or unfair trade practices.”

“Mr. Pai also is believed to be considering provisions to restore FTC oversight of broadband providers’ consumer privacy protections,” McKinnon reports. “GOP lawmakers, with the backing of Mr. Pai, recently passed a measure repealing an Obama-era FCC privacy rule that broadband providers criticized as unfairly restrictive.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in August 2006:

We don’t presume to know the best way to get there, but we support the concept of “Net Neutrality” especially as it pertains to preventing the idea of ISP’s blocking or otherwise impeding sites that don’t pay the ISP to ensure equal access. That said, we usually prefer the government to be hands-off wherever possible, Laissez-faire, except in cases where the free market obviously cannot adequately self-regulate (antitrust, for example). Regulations are static and the marketplace is fluid, so such regulation can often have unintended, unforeseen results down the road. We sincerely hope that there are enough forces in place and/or that the balances adjust in such a manner as to keep the ‘Net as neutral as it is today.

And as we followed up in September 2009:

That we have the same Take over three years later should be telling. Government regulations are not a panacea, neither are the lack thereof. It’s all about striking a proper balance where innovation can thrive while abuses are prevented.

Make that “the same Take over a decade later.”

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  1. Mr Pai is the Butt Boy of the Telecom and Cable Lobby groups.
    It is his personal mission to keep you paying the absolute most for the slowest broadband in the developed world with the least possible privacy and consumer rights.
    About 5 minutes after he leaves the FCC he will get a Cush job in one of the following:
    A phone company, a cable company or either trade association.

    Michael Powell is his BFF.

  2. So good to see Google’s loss of sway over the corrupt Obama administration is coming rapidly to an end.

    Also good to see Chairman Pai willingly defanging the FCC and restoring it to its proper place, while also restoring the FTC’s powers of oversight.

    Pai is voluntarily giving up power for the good of the country, because he know what’s right. Something no Dem/Lib/Prog would ever do.

      1. Because you’re protected by the FTC and whatever new rules/legislation arise after the FCC is defanged. The FCC was corrupted by Google’s money and assistance (data) to the Obama campaign.

        To make it simple: Google paid Obama (via campaign contributions of money and personnel) so they could own ad tracking and basically build a monopoly. Obama used the FCC to deliver the goods.

        Three must-read articles in order to understand the issue:

        LA Times: FCC Democrats caved to Obama on net neutrality rules

        The Telegraph: Obama wades into ‘net neutrality’ debate

        The Intercept: Google’s Remarkably Close Relationship With the Obama White House, in Two Charts

        The Internet worked just fine when the FTC held sway. These moves will help you by removing corruption, killing Google’s (and now Facebook’s) ad-tracking (and therefore online advertising) duopoly.

        Ads will get better. Competition will make ad prices better for publishers (resulting in fewer losses of such sites as MacNN), so you’ll have more quality sites to visit for free and the number of ads might even decrease!

        1. If that actually happens, it might be good for me. But if these changes also allow my ISP to exert undue control over which sites I can easily get to through bandwith restrictions, I’m not going to be very happy about that. Based on years of experience, it’s hard for me to believe that AT&T, Comcast, and the other big players have my best interests at heart. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand all the complexities of this issue, so I am in a wait-and-see mode. Any concern I have is based upon 30 years as a customer of AT7T, then SBC, and how again AT&T. I have rarely seen any alignment between what’s good for them and what’s good for me. However, I do appreciate your thoughtful comments and links.

        2. Yes, it certainly does. Hopefully, the FTC and others will do an excellent job keeping the ISPs and other gatekeepers (google, Facebook) reigned in while not stifling innovation.

  3. Being able to buy the most detailed and personal information about everyone will only make misinformation campaigns staged by Russia and anyone else for that matter all the more targeted and effective. This Isnt about preventing retailers from better serving/targeting their consumers ( although that’s done fine with me), this is about keeping oneself from being manipulated by anyone at any time for any reason without our knowledge.

  4. The problem with Mr. Pai’s thinking, and the ‘hands off’ approach, is that the broadband industry DOES NOT have any interest in self-policing. Why would they, as it doesn’t help their bottom line. As one poster states above, being in a single-provider town, they can charge whatever they see fit, with no monopoly protection.

    This is the same for net neutrality; it is foolish to think that corporations, who are only in it for the money (shocking, I know), and have zero interest in actually doing right by their customers (speed, innovation, new deployments, competition) will adequately police themselves into not squeezing out up-and-comers from developing the next/better Netflix by charging them unreasonably to allow their content to reach the same people that the bigger (read: deeper-pocketed) customers can.

    The Internet should have as many controls, rule, and government-enforced regulations as is required to keep the playing field forcibly leveled.

    Without forceful leveling, the dollar rules.

    1. The FCC is only one entity and it’s the wrong entity. The FTC, with power restored, is capable of policing the industry without stifling innovation and competition.

      1. Actually the FCC is the RIGHT agency.

        The Internet is a COMMUNICATIONS medium (essentially no different from radio communications just a different physical medium). COMMUNICATIONS go through ISPs (essentially no different from all the regional phone operators). Information is transferred though COMMUNICATIONS companies (essentially the big ISPs are no different from the big phone and wireless providers).

        Everyone recognizes the FCC is the appropriate organization to license and control all the other communications organizations. Those companies that implement and control the Internet are no different.

        The FCC *IS* the appropriate agency to license and control ISPs. The FTC argument is a 100% ruse. Within days of the FTC trying to implement any controlling regulation on ISPs (or any company implementing any major part of the Internet) those companies *WILL* file lawsuits in federal court to halt any such regulation simply because the FTC is the wrong agency to regulate communications organizations, and there’s an 99.999% chance they’ll win — likely after a long and costly legal battle over it. (And guess who pays for that legal battle in the end? You and me.)

        Congress knows (and even Pai knows) that putting it out there that the FTC should be the regulating agency is a ruse. They all know that it is just one more way to keep any useful regulation from happening. It is just one more way to kick the problem down the road — claim it needs to be the FTC; spend 2-4 years attempting to get this area of responsibility kicked over to the FTC; spend another 2-4 years with the FTC trying to wrestle with the problem; spend another 2-6 years in courts fighting over whether the FTC is the appropriate agency; spend another 2-4 years getting it moved back to the FCC; spend another 2-4 years drafting then implementing useful regulations — a total of 10 to 22 or more years before anyone actually having to step up and do anything. That’s certainly saying, I’m not going to do anything. I’m not going to stand up and make sure things get implemented that are fair and right. In essence, I’m going to make sure I don’t have to do anything — and I’m going to make sure no one else can either.

        I can’t really believe that you, FirstThen, actually believe that the FTC is the appropriate agency no matter whether you believe regulations should be in place or not.

      2. F*k T*d, you’re only quoting the company line, as per usual. No thinking, no imagination evident.

        If you’d bothered to watch the House debates over horrific S.J.R. 34 you’d have heard your deceitful dastard Republicans ADMIT that the FTC has NO legal ability to regulate ISPs, NO legal ability to protect citizen’s privacy rights on the Internet. RESULT: The corporatocracy wins, We The People LOSE. 100% unconstitutional.

        Lawsuits pending.

        That hand you feel up your backside indicates you are only a sock puppet.

        Donate to the EFF:

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