Sunday, November 27, 2022

Trump Admin Moves to Repeal Obama-Era Net Neutrality

Trump Admin Moves to Repeal Obama-Era Net Neutrality

Current FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, is no fan of Net Neutrality and has been keen on getting rid of rules for a while. Now he is taking action to do just that, Reuters reports, as he met with major telecommunication trade groups to discuss his blueprint for the law’s repeal.

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Fast-track Repeal of Net Neutrality

Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman

It has been reported that Pai met with these groups on Tuesday and that they discussed his plans to reverse the regulation. Additionally, Pai attempted to get telecommunication companies to voluntarily agree to an open internet, suggesting that they commit to the idea in writing.

The FCC boss has made the repeal a priority for the FCC, fast-tracking his plan to the top of the agency’s agenda. In fact, Pai could reveal those plans as early as late April — possibly at the FCC’s next open commission meeting on April 20th.

Any plan that Pai puts forward has a very good chance of passing because with Ajit Pai and fellow commissioner, Michael O’Rielly, Republicans currently hold a 2-1 majority on the FCC’s leadership committee.

While Pai looks to officially take the law off the books, he also wants to uphold the law’s sentiment and keep the foundation of net neutrality legally intact. Simply put, he still wants to prevent ISPs from blocking, throttling, or otherwise prioritizing certain content within their networks for financial gain. Pai just wants to shift the authority to enforce this matter to the Federal Trade Commission.

How We Got Here

The controversial Net Neutrality laws passed during the Obama administration. Formally known as the “2015 Open Internet Order,” the FCC passed it into law in 2015 with a 3-2 vote along party lines.

In a nutshell, the rule classified major ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast as “Common Carriers.” This means, legally, internet service classifies as a public utility — giving the federal government, specifically the FCC, more authority over the internet service market.

Supporters argued that it was a necessary change to keep Internet Service Providers from throttling people’s connections (purposeful slowing of available bandwidth), and engaging in anti-competitive practices by promoting some content over others. Some just think that Internet service is a basic human right and thus should be guaranteed by law.

Those opposed, however, say that net neutrality attempts to solve a problem that never existed in the first place. Others also say that prioritizing bandwidth allocation is just a normal practice and is to be expected of an economically-valuable service.

Ajit Pai, a Republican nominated by Trump, has opposed net neutrality even before he became chairman. In December 2016, Pai predicted that net neutrality’s days would soon end. In February he also stated that he believes “in a free and open internet and the only question is what regulatory framework best secures that.”

What do you think of the FCC Chairman trying to repeal net neutrality? Do you think we need net neutrality laws in place? Let us know in the comments below.

Images via Getty, Ajit Pai

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