- Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), outlined some details of his plans to roll back net neutrality rules established under the Obama administration during a speech in Washington on Wednesday.
- Pai will first seek to cancel current rules that reclassify internet providers as "common carriers," also known as Title II. Pai said he plans to seek a vote to begin public debate on the issue at the FCC’s next public meeting May 18.
- Pai believes the industry should be allowed to police itself, and that regulation keeps ISPs from expanding and upgrading, which in turn curbs job growth. "The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get," Pai said, according to The New York Times. He promised to make the full text of his proposal available to the public on Thursday.
Pai has made it clear he wants to revamp net neutrality rules. Now we know how he intends to begin the process, though a lot of details are missing from his remarks, including what exactly would replace the rules.
Pai is likely to hear lots of backlash from consumers and tech companies that support the current rules. In March, more than 170 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, signed a letter calling for the FCC to maintain net neutrality. The Internet Association, which represents leading tech companies like Google and Facebook, has already declared its "vigorous support" for current net neutrality policies.
Organizations argue that without net neutrality, internet providers could slow access to web content and make it more difficult to transfer large amounts of data. At the same time, many argue the rules also protect consumers.
While any changes initiated by Pai will likely endure months of public debate, Republicans have a 2 to 1 majority on the FCC. So despite what may be heavy opposition, any proposals Pai puts up for a vote are likely to pass.
The FCC isn't the only federal agency pushing for rolling back net neutrality rules. The Federal Trade Commission also has interests related to internet governance. Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen on Wednesday issued a statement supporting Pai’s proposal, calling it an "important step toward restoring the FTC’s ability to protect broadband."