FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Unveils ‘Restoring Internet Freedom’ Order Repealing Net Neutrality

net neutrality
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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai unveiled his Restoring Internet Freedom order on Wednesday, which will repeal the agency’s net neutrality regulation.

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 classified the Internet as a public utility. 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 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. The FCC will also repeal the Internet conduct standard which micromanaged innovative new business models for ISPs and mobile broadband carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile.

The FCC will vote on December 14, 2017, to repeal the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which established net neutrality. The rule, known as the Open Internet Order, reclassified the Internet as a public monopoly. Critics chided the rule, stating that it would diminish the freedom of the Internet. Proponents argue that the regulations prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against content providers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai declared in a statement on Tuesday:

Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades. Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet.  Instead, the FCC 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.

Additionally, as a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015.  Notably, my proposal will put the federal government’s most experienced privacy cop, the FTC, back on the beat to protect consumers’ online privacy.

Speaking of transparency, when the prior FCC adopted President Obama’s heavy-handed Internet regulations, it refused to let the American people see that plan until weeks after the FCC’s vote.  This time, it’ll be different.  Specifically, I will publicly release my proposal to restore Internet freedom tomorrow—more than three weeks before the Commission’s December 14 vote.

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Visiting Scholar Roslyn Layton cheered net neutrality’s repeal. Layton said:

I applaud Chairman Ajit Pai and the FCC for the courage and honesty to propose Restoring Internet Freedom item in a forthright and transparent way, three weeks before the scheduled vote. Not only was the 2015 Open Internet Order misguided, the previous FCC voted on a 400-page order without showing it to the public. Now with new leadership, the FCC makes a welcome effort to put consumers in charge of the future of the internet ecosystem, not regulators. Importantly, this effort honors the rule of law and Congress’ intent that the internet be ‘unfettered Federal and State regulation.’ If approved, the measure will likely reverse the trend of declining network investment and lost jobs from canceled network deployment. Permission-less innovation for all internet actors will be the norm. ‎The proposal also reinstates the authority and expertise of the Federal Trade Commission and its competition standard.

Ken Cuccinelli, FreedomWorks Foundation’s director of the Regulatory Action Center, said in a statement, “This Thanksgiving, we are truly thankful for Republican leadership at FCC under Chairman Pai. From all we’ve heard, this order will go a long way in restoring regulation of the Internet back to the bipartisan light-touch framework that worked for two decades prior to the unprecedented and unnecessary 2015 order.”

Cuccinelli added, “So far, Chairman Pai and the other GOP commissioners at the FCC have shown a dedication to smart, evidenced-based regulation that adheres to Congressional intent, rather than rogue-regulating based on speculation and fear. This is why we can confidently say we anticipate continuing our full support of FCC’s efforts to Restore Internet Freedom after we’ve had a chance to review the final order ourselves.”

Read the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order here.


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