The days of net neutrality are numbered

Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman aims to overturn the existing net neutrality rules by late April and push for an initial vote by May or June.

According to three sources briefed on the matter at hand, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is moving quickly to replace the net neutrality rules placed by the Obama administration.

The FCC wants internet service providers to voluntarily agree to maintain an open internet, said the sources.

On Tuesday, Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, had a meeting with major telecommunications trade groups wherein they discussed the roadmap of reversing the Obama Administration’s rules governing net neutrality, said the sources.

Although the FCC declined to comment, Pai had earlier said he felt net neutrality was a mistake although he claimed he was a proponent of an open internet.

In early 2015, under President Barack Obama, the FCC had approved rules that prohibit ISPs from selling or giving access to who sell “fast lane[s]” over other ISPs. As part of that strategic change, the FCC had then reclassified ISPs much like utilities.

The FCC chairman now aims at overturning that classification but wants ISPs to voluntarily agree to not obstruct or slow down consumer access to web content, said two sources.

As per the officials, during the course of the meeting, Pai had suggested that companies commit in writing that they will stick to the principles of an open internet and include them in their terms of service which will make them binding.

It is unclear as to how regulators could legally compel ISP to adopt the principles of an open internet outside the framework of the existing net neutrality rules.

The way Pai sees it, once regulators agree in writing, their actions will be overseen by the Federal Trade Commission to ensure compliance.

Three sources have disclosed Pai plans on unveiling his proposal to overturn the rules by late April and push for an initial vote either in May or June.

ISPs, including Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc and Comcast Corp have argued that net neutrality rules make it harder for them to manage internet traffic and to ensure compliance additional investment will be needed.

On the other side of the spectrum, websites feel that without the net neutrality rules they might lose access to customers.

In 2015, major trade groups, including AT&T had sued the FCC in over the net neutrality rules.

Privacy advocates, including Democrats say net neutrality is crucial to keeping the internet open.

Earlier in December, Pai had stated he believes “in a free and open internet and the only question is what regulatory framework best secures that.”

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