FCC chief lays out attack on 'net neutrality' rules

ISPs were swift with their applause over FCC chairman Ajit Pai's announcement that he would be rolling back Title II reclassification of internet access, something they once called the "nuclear option" and sued to overturn in court.

Calling them a mistake, he said the commission will vote on May 18 to "return to the light-touch regulatory framework that served our nation so well during the Clinton administration, Bush administration, and the first six years of the Obama administration".

A federal appeals court upheld the rules previous year.

The group represents Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., and its leaders met with Pai this month to stress their "vigorous support" for the 2015 Open Internet order.

Over time, the FCC established so-called net neutrality principles that state that Internet providers shouldn't block or slow down any websites or apps (no blocking or discrimination) and shouldn't charge extra for faster loading (no paid prioritization).

The Obama-era regulations led to major broadband privacy rules that make it more hard for users of the internet to have their browsing and other data collected.

Pai is expected to outline his proposal in an afternoon speech at the Newseum, and formally could deliver the plan to his fellow commissioners later this week. Rather than protecting Americans and leveling the playing field, Pai argued Title II regulation has resulted in reduced industry investment and by extension cost the country as many as 100,000 jobs.

Smaller startups generally have an easier time defending stricter net-neutrality rules, since they are less likely, hypothetically speaking, to benefit from systems that allow ISPs to give some services preferential treatment. Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts said Pai's proposal "creates an environment where we can have a fresh constructive dialogue".

AT&T Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson said Wednesday, "We applaud FCC Chairman Pai's initiative to remove this stifling regulatory cloud over the internet", and he described the 2015 rules as "illogical". Although, Pai didn't cite his sources here, and many on the other side of the aisle disagree with the assertion. Pai notably said that he intends the whole process of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to be handled in the open, with public hearings and open discussions, starting with the release of a formal "Notice of Proposed Rule Making" on April 27.

His plan, though still vague in details, is a sharp change from the approach taken by the last F.C.C. administration, which approved rules governing a concept known as net neutrality in 2015.

Prevent the FCC from adopting any net neutrality rules in the future.

Internet companies are readying for a showdown with telecoms and a Republican-controlled government over a policy near and dear to their hearts: net neutrality. Democrats and consumer advocacy groups strongly support the current laws, and the FCC said it received a record-breaking 3.7 million comments on the topic when it was debated in 2014.

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