The Federal Communications Commission will proceed with a vote Thursday for repealing Obama-era net neutrality rules, despite multiple online protests and a letter Tuesday from 39 Democratic senators urging the FCC to keep the rules in place. The commission, which is majority Republican, is expected to pass the repeal on party lines.
FCC Chair Ajit Pai authored the repeal proposal, which reverses a 2015 FCC mandate forbidding Internet service providers from slowing or blocking content to certain websites, charging more for access to all sites, or offering some website owners faster connections than others. Psi’s proposal allows service providers to engage in all of the above practices, as long as they publicly disclose that they are doing so.
Pai will also authorize the Federal Trade Commission to investigate service providers and make sure that their disclosures are fully honest and that they are complying with antitrust laws.
“Instead of saddling the Internet with heavy-handed regulations, we will work together to take targeted action against bad actors,” Pai said Monday.
Democratic lawmakers argue, however, that the trade commission lacks the expertise to monitor Internet providers. They pointed out that the FTC’s mandate is only to investigate anticompetitive practices and antitrust violations.
Netflix and Amazon both came out against net-neutrality repeal as well, citing concerns that service providers might impede or block their content for some users. Mozilla, Pinterest, and Imgur also publicly protested the repeal, along with Reddit, which temporarily replaced its usual home page Tuesday with a solid red banner that told visitors: “We’re sorry, but you’ve exceeded your allotted bandwidth for HTTPS://WWW.REDDIT.COM. Please update your internet plan to continue browsing.”