Federal Communications Commission

The FCC’s New Plan Dismantles Net Neutrality to Rely on the Free Market

Today, chairman of the Federal Trade Communications Commission, Ajit Pai outlined his new plan to loosen the FCC’s oversight of internet service providers. As expected, his dream plan effectively kills off many of the ideas of net neutrality.

During a speech today, Pai outlined his plan, the full text of which we’ll see tomorrow. The plan attacks the 2015 ruling that treated internet providers like traditional utilities, like a telephone company, under what’s known as Title II of the Communications Act. This meant ISPs were subjected to tougher, utility-style regulations. While the Title II mandates had no effect on the price of services, they did require internet providers to follow a few rules, including: no blocking of sites, no paid “fast” lanes, and no throttling of speeds. Which is largely all beneficial for consumers.

For example, Title II meant that a company like Comcast could not throttle your speeds just because you watched too much Netflix, or in turn give Netflix a priority fast lane to provide higher quality streaming exclusively for Comcast users. The rules applied to wireless and wired providers. It also paved the way for regulations meant to protect your privacy, which Congress overturned before they could even take effect. As you’d expect, ISPs weren’t fans of Title II because it meant they were subject to countless rules and oversight.

Pai’s plan is still vague in details, but he gave us broad strokes. The new plan would reclassify internet providers as Title I information services again, moving most oversight from the FCC back to the FTC. This isn’t necessarily true, because while the FTC is prohibited from regulating common carrier, removing the common carrier designation won’t necessarily give the FTC authority. That would likely take another action by Congress.

Pai also argued that by rolling back the…