In the digital age, most people obtain their news off of the internet before anything else and according to the FCC, they are planning to change that.
Federal regulators announced a plan Tuesday that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use, and at what cost.
The move sets the stage for a crucial vote next month at the Federal Communications Commission that could reshape the entire digital ecosystem. The FCC’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, has made undoing the government’s net neutrality rules one of his top priorities, and Tuesday’s move hands a win to broadband companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.
Today, I’m proposing to repeal the heavy-handed Internet regulations imposed by the Obama Administration and to return to the light-touch framework under which the Internet developed and thrived before 2015. In @WSJopinion: https://t.co/uDIiKr6YHF
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) November 21, 2017
Pai is taking aim at regulations that were approved two years ago under a Democratic presidency and that sought to make sure all Internet content, whether from big or small companies, would be treated equally by Internet providers. The rules ensured that ISPs like Verizon or AT&T couldn’t slow down a customers internet when they are watching sites like Netflix and Hulu simply because they are competition.
The action immediately reignited the fight over free speech and the control of the internet, with both sides expected to lobby hard in Washington to push their agendas. In a statement to the New York Times, Pai states that his proposal will only eliminate the “micromanagement” of the government over the internet.
“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Mr. Pai said. “Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”
But companies like Amazon beg to differ stating that the telecom companies would be able to show favoritism to certain web services, by charging for accessing some sites but not others, or by slowing the connection speed to some sites. Small online companies say the proposal would hurt innovation due to only the largest companies being able to afford the expense of making sure their sites received preferred treatment.
The proposal from Mr. Pai, a Republican, is expected to be approved during a Dec. 14 meeting in a 3-to-2 party-line vote from the agency’s five commissioners, but that isn’t stopping some companies from planning to take legal action in an effort to stop the amendment from going into effect.