“The U.S. Federal Communications Commission next month is planning a vote to kill Obama-era rules demanding fair treatment of web traffic and may decide to vacate the regulations altogether, according to people familiar with the plans,” Todd Shields reports for Bloomberg. “The move would reignite a years-long debate that has seen Republicans and broadband providers seeking to eliminate the rules, while Democrats and technology companies support them.”
“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, chosen by President Donald Trump, in April proposed gutting the rules and asked for public reaction. The agency has taken in more than 22 million comments on the matter,” Shields reports. “Pai plans to seek a vote in December, said two people who asked not to be identified because the matter hasn’t been made public. As the head of a Republican majority, he is likely to win a vote on whatever he proposes.”
“One of the people said Pai may call for vacating the rules except for portions that mandate internet service providers inform customers about their practices — one of the more severe options that would please broadband providers. They argue the FCC’s rules aren’t needed and discourage investment, in part because they subject companies to complex and unpredictable regulations,” Shields reports. “Trump’s White House has opposed the rules. In July, as Pai’s critics protested, a White House spokesman said the administration “supports the FCC’s efforts to roll back burdensome, monopoly-era regulations.””
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Note: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, April 2017:
I favor a free and open Internet, as I think most consumers do.
My concern is with the particular regulations that the FCC adopted two years ago. They are what is called Title II regulations developed in the 1930s to regulate the Ma Bell telephone monopoly.
And my concern is that, by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on Internet service providers big and small, we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out Internet access to a lot of parts of the country, in low-income, urban and rural areas, for example.
And that, I think, is something that nobody would benefit from… so what we’re trying to do going forward is figure out a way that we can preserve that free and open Internet that consumers want and need and preserve that incentive to invest in the network that will ultimately benefit even more consumers going forward.
If you look carefully, a lot of… companies don’t say that they like Title II specifically, these particular regulations. What they say is that they care about the principles of a free and open Internet.
And so I actually think there is a decent amount of common ground there. And it’s just a matter of finding the appropriate legal framework to reach that common ground.
But the second point I would make is that these companies are the best evidence of the success of the light-touch regulatory framework that originated in the Clinton administration, and that’s something that I favor.
From the dawn of the commercial Internet in the 1990s until 2015, we had light-touch regulation, where the agency or where the country monitored the market, let it develop organically, and then took targeted action if necessary, if there was an example of anti-competitive conduct.
And it’s under that light-touch framework that the companies like Google, like Facebook, like Netflix were able to become globally known names. And that’s the kind of success that we want to promote in the future with light-touch regulation.
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