FCC Chairman Pai Moves to Strip Americans of Net Neutrality Protections

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a “Restoring Internet Freedom” draft Order that would roll back the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which created strong net neutrality rules that force broadband providers to treat all internet content and services equally.

The agency’s new proposal downgrades broadband from a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act, to a mere “information service.” If adopted at the FCC meeting on December 14, the draft Order will eliminate the existing network neutrality rules (“no blocking, no throttling, and no 'fast lanes'”) that currently protect the Open Internet. Millions of Americans expressed support for these rules by submitting comments with the FCC leading up to the 2015 Open Internet Order, and millions of Americans have opposed FCC Chairman Pai’s proposal to roll back these rules since he announced it last spring.

Public Knowledge opposes FCC Chairman Pai’s move to gut these rules, leaving consumers, small businesses, artists, students, hospital patients, low-income families, startups and entrepreneurs unprotected and at the mercy of broadband providers.

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“For almost 20 years, both Republican and Democratic FCC Chairmen have pledged to protect the right of broadband subscribers to access any lawful content or application, and to prevent the cable and telephone companies that provide the ‘on ramps’ to the internet from picking winners and losers. Today, for the first time, Chairman Pai proposes to leave internet subscribers completely unprotected by the FCC. Chairman Pai’s radical ‘Carriers First, Consumers Last’ approach puts broadband subscribers at the mercy of local cable companies whose ‘innovations’ have more to do with gouging consumers and crushing competition than with providing new services.”

For more information on net neutrality, view this explainer from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, our issue page or net neutrality timeline highlighting key moments of this debate.

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