[JURIST] The Federal Trade Commission (FCC) released a plan [text, PDF] on Tuesday to dismantle regulations that require equal access to the internet, often called net neutrality [JURIST backgrounder]. The proposal would repeal internet regulations put in place by the Obama Administration and allow for internet service providers to block access to certain websites.
The proposal, made by FCC chairman Ajit Pai [official website], seeks to repeal rules that prohibit high-speed internet providers from slowing down delivery of websites and prevent companies from charging consumers additional fees for high-quality streaming. Mr. Pai hopes that the plan will allow for a
return to the bipartisan consensus on light-touch regulation, ending utility-style regulation of the Internet. This will promote future innovation and investment. And more investment in digital infrastructure will create jobs, increase competition, and lead to better, faster, cheaper Internet access for all Americans, especially those in rural and low-income areas.The plan to repeal the existing rules [JURIST report], passed in 2015, would reverse the agency's decision to consider broadband a public utility, meaning that broadband is considered to be as essential as phones and electricity.
Telecom behemoths, such as AT&T and Verizon, argue that the regulations prevent them from offering customers a wider selection of services at higher speeds, while internet companies, such as Google and Amazon, warn that the repeal of these rules will give telecom companies too much control over information and entertainment. Under the new plan, broadband providers will be able to deny access to websites, and in some cases, slow down or speed up service for its business partners.
Net neutrality has emerged as a major political issue in the US and internationally. Intense lobbying from both political sides and companies like Google and Facebook, who have publicly opposed changes to the net neutrality regulations, is expected in the upcoming weeks.