Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai on Friday raised the first of many criticisms to come about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s aggressive net neutrality plan distributed to commissioners Thursday, which Pai described as “President Obama’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet.”
In a statement released Friday, Pai lamented the fact that the 332-page plan, which he tweeted a picture of himself holding next to a picture of Obama, won’t be released to the public until after the commission votes on its implementation later this month. (RELATED: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Finally Reveals His Net Neutrality Plan)
Here is President Obama’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet. I wish the public could see what’s inside. pic.twitter.com/bwwAsk8ZiB
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) February 6, 2015
“President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works,” Pai said. “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”
In his initial cursory overview of the plan, the commissioner said it would hinder broadband investment, slow network speed and expansion, limit outgrowth to rural areas of the country and reduce Internet service provider (ISP) competition.
“The plan saddles small, independent businesses and entrepreneurs with heavy-handed regulations that will push them out of the market,” Pai said. “As a result, Americans will have fewer broadband choices. This is no accident. Title II was designed to regulate a monopoly. If we impose that model on a vibrant broadband marketplace, a highly regulated monopoly is what we’ll get.”
In an op-ed detailing the core aspects of his net neutrality plan published earlier this week, Wheeler described lumping ISPs under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act — which based its authority on that used to regulate telephone monopolies at the dawn of the communication age — as the cornerstone.
“Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC,” Wheeler wrote Wednesday. “These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.”
The plan described by Wheeler would ban wired and wireless ISPs like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable from establishing tiered lanes of service speeds with varying prices for content creators like Netflix, Google, YouTube, Facebook and others based on speed and bandwidth use. It would also prevent ISPs from throttling, segregating or blocking traffic.
“Courts have twice thrown out the FCC’s attempts at Internet regulation,” Pai said recalling the lawsuit that struck down the FCC’s Internet authority last year, setting off the year-long debate. “There’s no reason to think that the third time will be the charm. Even a cursory look at the plan reveals glaring legal flaws that are sure to mire the agency in the muck of litigation for a long, long time.” (RELATED: FCC Votes For New ‘Net Neutrality’ Internet Regulations)
Industry lobbyists, lawmakers and regulators aligned with Pai have accused the FCC — an independent government agency — of bending to the White House’s will with the plan, which includes virtually all of the proposals advocated by President Obama late last year. (RELATED: Obama Announces Support For Net Neutrality)
Pai said that his comments on the plan Friday would be the first of many as he reviews the plan himself in the weeks prior to the Feb. 26 vote. (RELATED: This Is What A Republican FCC Commissioner Had To Say About Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Plan)