Ignoring criticism from all sides, FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced today a plan to roll back net neutrality in the US.
In a statement issued today, the FCC brazenly announced that "Chairman Pai is now setting the FCC on a course to fix the problems that the prior FCC created," albeit the vast majority of the US consumerbase has shown its support for the current legislation, adopted in February 2015.
"Earlier today, I shared with my fellow Commissioners a proposal to reverse the mistake of Title II and return to the light-touch regulatory framework that served our nation so well during the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration, and the first six years of the Obama Administration," Pai wrote in a separate statement.
Pai's proposal aims to roll back the FCC's February 2015 reclassification of fixed and mobile Internet providers as utility carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.
The FCC will vote on the rollback of this reclassification on May 18. Once approved, the proposal will remove any legal powers the FCC currently has to regulate Internet providers, returning everything to the state it was before 2015.
This means ISPs are free to do with their bandwidth as they wish. Currently, the former FCC leadership issued rules based on the Title II reclassification and forced ISPs to treat all Internet traffic the same.
Many consumer and privacy groups believe ISPs will abuse this freedom to throttle bandwidth and control Internet speeds based on traffic types and sources.
Many ISPs are also owners of several Internet realties. Without net neutrality, many fear ISPs will slow down traffic for competing services. For example, Verizon, who owns AOL and sites like TechCrunch, could slow down traffic to other tech news sites, or it won't count traffic towards TechCrunch against the user's monthly data cap.
While everyone and their dog has seen the glaring conflict of interests, Pai continued with his regular rhetoric that killing net neutrality will create jobs, boost competition, and spur broadband development.
Pai was previously quoted as saying that net neutrality was a mistake. Furthermore, Pai and the FCC have knocked down user privacy protections preventing ISPs from selling customer data and stopped an investigation into the selective zero-rating data caps (detailed above in the TechCrunch example). With decisions like these, it's hard to take the FCC as a consumer-first group.
Startups, privacy groups, government officials, and Silicon Valley tech companies have all showed their support for net neutrality, but they've been gloriously ignored by the FCC. On the other hand, AT&T applauded Pai's decision.