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Seattle protesters, spring 2017

Published reports say the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to roll back Net Neutrality rules that were put in place by the Obama Administration.

Reports by Reuters and Bloomberg cite unnamed sources as saying the FCC will take the action at its December meeting. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been an outspoken critic of Net Neutrality, even before he was appointed to his post by President Trump.

The Net Neutrality regulations, put in place in 2015, prohibit major internet service providers (ISP) like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast from favoring one type of content over others by providing lower rates and so-called “fast lanes.”

While ISPs have generally opposed Net Neutrality, it has been strongly defended by technology companies, content providers, and consumer groups, who argue that abolishing the rules will hamper users’ access and control of the internet.

Reaction

“In less than a month, and in defiance of the tens of millions of Americans who have spoken out for the free and open internet, Ajit Pai will move to kill Net Neutrality," Free Press CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement emailed to ConsumerAffairs. "It’s time to raise hell."

While the details aren't known, Aaron contends that the GOP-led FCC plans to undo "basic protections" that have been in place on the internet since the beginning. He called on content providers and ordinary consumers to make their voices heard.

“Any honest look at the facts proves that the Title II rules (classifying the internet as a common carrier) are working well, investment is up across the board, and the only uncertainty or confusion is based on what’s coming out of Pai’s mouth," Aaron said. "If the FCC passes Pai’s plan in December, it will face enormous challenges in court."

In May, the agency (with a 3-2 Republican majority) voted to begin a rulemaking process to do away with the internet's Title II classification. During the open comments period most technology companies strongly opposed the move.

It can be a complex subject

While the public may be vaguely aware of the term and the concept, Net Neutrality is a complicated concept. As we reported earlier this month, the issue for regulators is whether or not the internet is a public utility like the electric company.

Supporters of Net Neutrality argue that it is. Opponents, like ISPs, argue that it is not, and that they have invested billions in technology infrastructure.

So far, the FCC has had no comment on the media reports predicting the end of Net Neutrality. A spokesman told Bloomberg "we have nothing to report at this point."


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