Another Obama-era regulatory regime bites the dust
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will repeal all Obama-era rules relating to "net neutrality." The vote on repeal will be taken in December, when the Republican majority is expected to approve it.
The Obama net neutrality rules hindered innovation and prevented telecoms from charging more for faster internet service. Eventually, net neutrality regulations would have established an internet price structure that had nothing to do with market forces.
President Donald Trump-appointed Pai's plan would jettison rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing web traffic or creating so-called paid internet fast lanes, the people familiar with the changes said.
Pai also will follow through on his plans to scrap the legal foundation that the FCC's old Democratic majority adopted in 2015 to tighten federal oversight of internet service providers, a move he contends has deterred the industry from investing in broadband networks. Internet providers have feared that legal foundation, if left in place, could set the stage for possible government price regulation of internet service.
The chairman's approach, to be voted on at the FCC's Dec. 14 meeting, would also get rid of the so-called general conduct standard, which gives the FCC authority to police behavior by internet service providers it deems unreasonable.
The plan includes transparency rules that would require internet service providers to inform their customers about their practices on issues such as blocking and throttling. Major internet providers, including Comcast, have publicly said they will not block or throttle web traffic.
The FCC will look to another agency, the Federal Trade Commission, to police whether internet service providers are acting in an anti-competitive manner.
An FCC spokesman declined comment on the plan.
Supporters of the existing rules, including tech giants like Netflix and left-leaning digital activists, say they are necessary to ensuring the internet remains a level playing field. But critics, including Pai, have said they are too burdensome and deter investment in broadband networks.
Supporters of net neutrality say big companies can't be trusted to run the internet fairly for all. This is poppycock. Why should a company look to drive customers away by blocking or "throttling" the internet for them? And the notion that those companies that use the internet more than others shouldn't pay more for a higher speed is anti-competitive.
There were some activists on the right who supported net neutrality. I think they were wrong. Those rules would certainly have stifled innovation and, like many government regulations, interfered with good business practices. Markets need freedom to promote competitiveness, which keeps costs down and encourages technological advances. The Obama-era rules would have done the opposite.