Just days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that effectively blocked a 2016 internet privacy rule from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services," tech companies and Internet providers are poised for another dramatic showdown.
The chairman of FCC, Ajit Pai, rolled out a plan to dismantle the Obama-era landmark net neutrality policy. The move is expected to largely leave the industry to police itself. According to Pai, rules that govern telecommunications, cable and broadcasting companies are harmful to business and this move is the most forceful action in his race to roll them up.
Net neutrality rules were intended to ensure an open internet. Internet service providers and governments regulating the internet should treat all data on the internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, etc.
However, Pai is aware of the fact that he will face a controversial battle with the consumers and tech companies that stand by the existing rules. The current rules are meant to prevent broadband providers from giving special treatment to any streaming videos, news sites and other content.
“Two years ago, I warned that we were making a serious mistake. It’s basic economics: The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get,” Pai said.
In a bid to gather support from companies like Facebook, Oracle, Cisco and Intel, Pai visited Silicon Valley to meet with executives. However, the new proposal faces several hurdles as it will undergo comments and revisions. Tech companies and consumer groups have also warned of a legal challenge and around 800 tech start-ups have sent a letter to Pai, protesting the unwinding of net neutrality.
The most vocal proponents of net neutrality in previous years, Google and Netflix, have not spoken individually about the proposal. However, while speaking through their trade group, they said the broadband and net neutrality rules should stay intact.
Pai’s proposal is set for a vote at the FCC's May 18 open meeting. He will begin seeking public feedback on the plan, if it is approved.