The commission will vote on the proposal in December, effectively trashing the rules that require Internet providers like Comcast or AT&T to treat all web traffic equally. He argues that these regulations are too burdensome and stifle innovation.
“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,” Pai said in a statement (read it in full below). “Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet.”
This position is not entirely unexpected.
Pai has been talking about doing away with the 2015 net neutrality rules since the summer. The chairman effectively embraces the arguments that telecommunications companies have been making for years — namely, that the Internet thrived under the “light touch” regulatory approach, leading to $1.5 trillion in investment in network improvements.
Pai also will reportedly abandon the legal framework that allowed the FCC to impose utility-like oversight of Internet service providers.
“That decision was a mistake,” Pai argues in a statement. “It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.”
The FCC plans to vote on the new rules, which Pai dubbed the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, at its December 14 open meeting. Already, this move is stoking howls of protest. Three groups — Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press Action Fund — plan protests December 7 to voice their opposition to the proposed rollback.
“This is the free speech fight of our generation and Internet users are pissed off and paying attention” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents. The corrupt bureaucrats trying to kill net neutrality are hoping to avoid public backlash by burying the news over the Holiday weekend. We’re taking our protest from the Internet to the streets to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Here’s Pai’s full statement:
For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.
But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake. It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.
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.
Working with my colleagues, I look forward to returning to the light-touch, market-based framework that unleashed the digital revolution and benefited consumers here and around the world.