FCC starts to reverse US net neutrality rules
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is to start to undo a key decision from the Obama era that could relax regulations on internet providers, namely the net neutrality Open Internet Order. As the Washington Post reports, the move highlights an “uphill battle for Democrats and consumer advocates, who say that weaker rules could allow internet service providers to abuse their position as gatekeepers between customers and the rest of the internet. The current net neutrality rules make it illegal for internet service providers to block or slow down websites for consumers.” ISPs have argued that softening the rules would help them to continue upgrading their networks and find new ways of making money. The commissioners voted 2 to 1 on the proposal, which now enables the FCC to begin taking public feedback, there could be a final vote later this year. The proposal also suggests repealing the so-called ‘general conduct’ rule that allows the FCC to investigate business practices of internet providers that it suspects may be anti-competitive. And finally, the proposal asks whether the agency should eliminate the most high-profile parts of the net neutrality rules: The rules banning the blocking and slowing of websites, as well as the rule forbidding ISPs from charging websites extra fees. In reporting a speech by FCC chair Ajit Pai, MIT Technology Review notes that that not everyone agrees with Pai’s assessment that net neutrality is stifling investment, which is based in part on a recent analysis by economist Hal Singer, a senior fellow at the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy. A competing analysis by the advocacy group Free Press concludes that investment has actually increased. Singer and Free Press don’t agree on the appropriate methodology for fairly comparing broadband investment before and after the regulations took effect. Read more in the Washington Post and MIT.
- Monday, 22 May 2017