FCC Repeals Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rule

Agit Pai

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” on Thursday, which will repeal the agency’s 2015 net neutrality regulation.

Chairman Pai told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday, “I think what net neutrality repealed would actually mean is we once again have a free and open Internet. The government would not be regulating how anyone in the Internet service providers, how anyone else in the internet economy manages their networks.”

The FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order will reclassify the Internet as an “information service” compared to the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality order, which regulated the Internet as a public monopoly. The order will also require Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast or Verizon to release transparency reports detailing their practices towards consumers and businesses.

The FCC’s net neutrality repeal order will also restore the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) traditional authority and expertise to regulate and litigate unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive telecommunications practices without onerous regulations and increased cost.

On Monday the FCC and the FTC agreed to share the responsibility to police unfair ISP practices regarding unfair or deceptive practices to block, throttle, or promote web content.

Chairman Pai explained in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal why repealing net neutrality will preserve a free and open internet.

Pai wrote:

We have proof that markets work: For almost two decades, the U.S. had a free and open internet without these heavy-handed rules. There was no market failure before 2015. Americans weren’t living in a digital dystopia before the FCC seized power. To the contrary, millions enjoyed an online economy that was the envy of the world. They experienced the most powerful platform ever seen for permission-less innovation and expression. Next month, I hope the FCC will choose to return to the common-sense policies that helped the online world transform the physical one.

The FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order and Breitbart News’s Allum Bokhari argued that under net neutrality content providers such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter have censored the internet, stifled conservative and alternative voices, and serve as a greater threat to free speech compared to ISPs.

Pai charged in a recent speech that Facebook, Twitter, and Google serve as a greater threat to free speech and an open internet.

“I love Twitter, and I use it all the time,” said Pai. “But let’s not kid ourselves; when it comes to an open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.”

In further comments, the FCC chairman specifically called out the censorship of Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s pro-life ad, which was blocked by Twitter for “inflammatory speech.”

Pai charged, “Two months ago, Twitter blocked Representative Marsha Blackburn from advertising her Senate campaign launch video because it featured a pro-life message. Before that, during the so-called Day of Action, Twitter warned users that a link to a statement by one company on the topic of Internet regulation ‘may be unsafe.’”

FCC Chairman Pai previously referenced Robert McChesney, the founder of Free Press, who remains a staunch supporter of net neutrality. Pai explained that McChesney openly bragged about taking over the internet. McChesney said, “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But, the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

Robert McChesney even said, “In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick by brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles.”

To put McChesney’s influence on net neutrality in context, he was cited 46 times in the Obama net neutrality order.

Democrats and Silicon Valley companies argued that content providers cannot compete on an even playing field without net neutrality.

Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA) said on Tuesday, “All you have to do is look at what went on over the last 10 or 15 years to see how the [internet service providers] repeatedly sought to crush potential competitors and challenged the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules in court to understand why the Open Internet Order was needed — and to see what will happen if the Open Internet Order is repealed.”

Net neutrality protesters gathered outside the FCC on Thursday morning to rally against the FCC’s repeal of the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order.

At the FCC meeting Pai charged:

This bipartisan policy worked.  Encouraged by light-touch regulation, the private sector invested over $1.5 trillion to build out fixed and mobile networks throughout the United States.  28.8k modems gave way to gigabit fiber connections.  Innovators and entrepreneurs grew startups into global giants.  America’s Internet economy became the envy of the world.

And this light-touch approach was good for consumers, too.  In a free market full of permissionless innovation, online services blossomed.  Within a generation, we’ve gone from email as the killer app to high-definition video streaming.  Entrepreneurs and innovators guided the Internet far better than the clumsy hand of government ever could have.

Fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’Reilly said, “No one can label more than a handful of examples of why we need this regulation.”

“Please take a deep breath. This decision will not break the Internet,” O’Reilly added.

Republican Commision Brendan Carr argued, “Americans will have robust Internet consumer protections.”

Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said at the FCC meeting, “Net neutrality is internet freedom. I support that freedom. I dissent from this rash decision to roll back net neutrality rules.”

Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn announced that next Tuesday she will host a town hall meeting to discuss the future of net neutrality.

Chairman Pai and FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly have argued that Congres should enact a permanent, legislative solution to the issue of net neutrality.

Pai explained:

I think the best solution would be for Congress to tell us what they want the rules of the road to be for the FCC and the country when it comes to the digital world. Part of the problem is that we are consistently looking at 1934 laws and 1996 laws then we try to shoehorn our modern marketplace to some of those paradigms that frankly we didn’t anticipate a marketplace as dynamic as the internet. I really think that Congress, ideally looking at all the opinions, and all the constituencies they can come to a consensus. Because again as Commissioner O’Reilly pointed out we don’t want the regulatory winds to keep shifting every four or eight years we want to provide some level of consistency to the marketplace so that consumers and companies alike can enjoy the digital revolution.

Pai concluded his remarks at the FCC meeting, “Many words have been spoken during this debate but the time has come for action. It is time for the Internet once again to be driven by engineers and entrepreneurs and consumers, rather than lawyers and accountants and bureaucrats.  It is time for us to act to bring faster, better, and cheaper Internet access to all Americans. It is time for us to return to the bipartisan regulatory framework under which the Internet flourished prior to 2015, it is time for us to restore Internet freedom.”

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