FCC Chair to Discuss Net Neutrality Strategy Wednesday

The Federal Communications Commission Wednesday began the process of attempting to roll back Obama-era rules that govern the internet. "Instead, we need rules that focus on growth and infrastructure investment, rules that expand high-speed internet access everywhere and give Americans more online choice, faster speeds and more innovation".

Evan Greer, campaign director at the digital rights group Fight for the Future, said in a statement, "Pai's speech was an insult to the intelligence of internet users".

Net neutrality has been the subject of legal and political battles for over a decade, with both sides claiming to represent a "free and open" internet.

By Pai, a Republican nominated as chairman by Trump at the beginning of the year, had signaled his intention to roll back these rules nearly immediately after he took charge.

"Net neutrality" regulations, created to prevent internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter from favoring some sites and apps over others, are on the chopping block.

The FCC now regulates Internet service providers (ISPs) under Title II regulations that essentially treat the internet as a public utility similar to the old phone monopoly.

The FCC will vote on May 18 to enact a Policy of Proposed Rulemaking that will further submit the proposed rule changes for a vote later in 2017.

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"Chairman Pai needs to cease his endless assault on internet freedom and net neutrality", Khanna said.

Pai's new plan would include only voluntary commitments by broadband companies, according to the New York Times, and the commissioner plans to seek advice from the public on how to best preserve basic open internet principles.

Pai's NPRM apparently proposes eliminating Net Neutrality guidelines put in place under the previous FCC administration.

In a press conference before Pai's speech, senators Edward Markey, Richard Blumenthal and Ron Wyden were joined by internet activists to warn Pai and Trump that efforts to undermine the rules would be met with stiff resistance. "It made a decision to slap an old regulatory framework called "Title II" - originally designed in the 1930s for the Ma Bell telephone monopoly - upon thousands of Internet service providers, big and small". The FCC's rules have since helped ensure that the Internet remains free of blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. "Make no mistake about it: this is a fight that we intend to wage and it is a fight that we are going to win", he said.

"Without net neutrality, the incumbents who provide access to the Internet would be able to pick winners and losers in the market", they wrote in the letter.

Public Knowledge adds that the FCC only classified broadband as a Title II utility service after the federal court ruled that the agency couldn't enforce any neutrality principles until it did so.

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