FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Announces Plans to Scale Back Net Neutrality26 Apr, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has made good his concerns regarding governmental oversight of the Internet — notably net neutrality.
Speaking April 26 at Newseum’s “The Future of Internet Freedom” in Washington, D.C., Pai said he would “reverse the mistake of Title II,” and return to more relaxed regulation that “served our nation so well during the Clinton administration, Bush administration, and the first six years of the Obama administration.”
Spearheaded in 2015 by former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, net neutrality re-classified the Internet as a common utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, mandating stricter federal oversight.
Pai contends the Internet requires little regulation. He proposes classifying the Web as a Title I information service and eliminating the Internet conduct standard, which prompted Pai to shut down government investigations of free data programs offered by telecoms and other ISPs.
The FCC is slated to vote May 18 on a “notice of proposed rulemaking,” which could lead to a final vote later in the year following public comments.
In his speech, Pai said the Web flourished since inception under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to “preserve the vibrant and competitive free market … unfettered by federal or state regulation.”
He said that until two years ago, the nation’s Internet economy produced the world’s most successful online companies: Google, Facebook and Netflix, among others. The private sector, Pai said, invested $1.5 trillion to build the networks that gave people broadband and “unparalleled” innovation.
Ironically, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix and other tech giants support the existing net neutrality guidelines.
Pai, who was appointed head of the FCC by President Trump, contends net neutrality came about because of politics.
“Days after a disappointing 2014 midterm election, and in order to energize a dispirited base, the White House released an extraordinary YouTube video instructing the FCC to implement Title II regulations. This was a transparent attempt to compromise the agency’s independence. And it worked,” Pai said.
The chairman said that since enactment of net neutrality, capital investment among the nation’s top ISPs declined 5.6%, or $3.6 billion, through 2016.
“This decline is extremely unusual. It is the first time that such investment has declined outside of a recession in the Internet era,” said Pai, adding that net neutrality has cost $5.1 billion in broadband capital investment and lost upwards of 100,000 jobs.