FCC moves quickly to replace net neutrality rules

A consortium of internet giants, including Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook and others have made it lucidly clear to the FCC that “the internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition, and innovation online”.

In a move that could potentially stir up a storm cloud and kickoff a new legal battle over the future of the internet, President Donald Trump appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai is set to unveil his strategy which could overturn the landmark net neutrality rules framed in 2015.

The FCC has stated that Pai will deliver a lecture titled “The Future of Internet Regulation” in Washington on Wednesday.

As per multiple sources, Pai is expected to announce the repealing of the rules approved by the FCC under President Barack Obama in 2015.

Pai’s office declined to comment.

The rules approved by the then U.S. President Barack Obama prohibit broadband service providers from selling access to speedy internet connections to certain internet services over others. It essentially prohibits a “fast lane,” system.

In 2015, the FCC rules had classified the services provided by ISPs much like utilities. In 2016, a federal appeals court had upheld the rules.

Companies, including, AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc have argued against net neutrality rules saying it makes it harder on them to manage internet traffic and forces them to sink in additional investments capacity augmentation.

Craig Aaron, the chief executive of the Free Press, an advocacy group, has stated Pai wants to hand over control of the internet to providers “no matter the cost to our economy and democracy.”

Pai has repeated that he backs “free and open internet” but under a different regulatory scheme. He had opposed net neutrality reclassification in 2015.

According to analysts, if the FCC were to roll back net neutrality rules it would put pressure on the Congress to adopt legislation that clarifies the extent of the FCC’s authority to regulate ISPs.

Mike O’Rielly, the FCC Commissioner, had said last week, if the Congress were to adopt legislation to resolve the issue they will first have to determine “whether there should be [such] rules” in the first place.

Privacy advocates have made it clear that net neutrality are crucial to keeping the internet open.

However, news outlets have been reporting since April that Pai has been moving quickly to replace these neutrality rules.

“There’s common ground here and there’s room for an agreement here,” said Pai. “Going forward we want to make sure that we have a light touch regulatory framework.”

Pai has not clarified on the alternate legal framework he has in mind that will guarantee an open internet.

According to a letter filed with the FCC, the Internet Association, a group representing Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc, and others, met up with Pai earlier this month and stated that “the internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition, and innovation online”.

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