FCC plans to ditch net neutrality

The FCC is expected to vote to rescind Obama-era "net neutrality" rules when it meets next month. These rules require Internet service providers to treat all Web traffic equally and prohibits them from limiting access to certain websites or charging more for faster access to other sites.
By Joyce Clark | Nov 23, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission will vote next month to repeal the 2015 "Net neutrality" rules governing Internet traffic, Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai said Tuesday. He said that he has submitted a proposal to replace the "utility-style" regulation and only require Internet service providers to be "transparent" about their practices to consumers and businesses.

"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. "Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet."

The commission will vote on the proposal when it meets December 14. With Pai and fellow Republicans holding three of the commission's five seats, the proposal is expected to pass.

Net neutrality requires Internet providers to treat all Web content equally. Providers cannot slow Internet speeds for certain websites, charge consumers more for faster access to them, or provide more bandwidth and access speeds to certain sites if their businesses pay them extra fees for the added bandwidth. Netflix had to pay Comcast "fast lane" bandwidth fees in 2014, for example, to get enough bandwidth to run its streaming service.

Pai argued that removing net neutrality would return the Internet to the "light touch" regulation that was in effect throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He said that investment in broadband service fell 6% after 2015 and blamed the added regulations for the drop.

But consumer-advocacy groups protested that Pai's proposal would be a loss for Internet users everywhere. Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, warned that Internet service providers will be able to charge consumers and businesses both higher prices for higher speeds and would give service providers the power to limit access to certain websites.

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