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FCC set to overturn net neutrality order

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has unveiled a plan that would give internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use, and at what cost, reports the Washington Post. “The move sets the stage for a crucial vote next month at the FCC that could reshape the entire digital ecosystem. The agency’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, has made undoing the government's net neutrality rules one of his top priorities, and the move hands a win to broadband companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.” Pai is taking aim at regulations that were approved just two years ago under a Democratic presidency and that sought to make sure all internet content, whether from big or small companies, would be treated equally by Internet providers. In a release, Pai said his proposal would prevent the government from “micromanaging the internet”. In place of the existing rules, he added, the FCC would “simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices”. The proposal would also shift some enforcement responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission, which can sue companies for violating the commitments or statements they have made to the public. Relying more heavily on internet providers' own promises on net neutrality reflects a departure from the current rules, which lay out clear federal bans against the selective blocking or slowing of websites, as well as the speeding-up of websites that agree to pay the providers a fee. Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the two Democrat commissioners at the FCC, has pulled no punches in criticising the move: “Our internet economy is the envy of the world because it is open to all. This proposal tears at the foundation of that openness. It hands broadband providers the power to decide what voices to amplify, which sites we can visit, what connections we can make, and what communities we create. It throttles access, stalls opportunity, and censors content. It would be a big blunder for a slim majority of the FCC to approve these rules and saddle every internet user with the cruel consequences.” Google also criticised the plan: “The FCC’s net neutrality rules are working well for consumers, and we’re disappointed in the proposal released today.” The draft order has not been made public yet but will be put to a vote at the FCC’s 14 December meeting. See more. Statement from FCC chair Ajit Pai here and Rosenworcel at here.

  • Wednesday, 22 November 2017

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