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FCC To Introduce Plans To Roll Back Net Neutrality Rules

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to introduce preliminary plans Tuesday to roll back internet regulations imposed under the Obama administration, according to Politico.

The imminent action point shows FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is ready to move forward with a decision he seemed intended to make for a while.

For an extended period of time, the FCC hosted an online forum for the public to submit comments and thoughts on net neutrality rules. While the whole process was an attempt at bureaucratic democracy, it ended up as sort of a mess due to the appearance of hundreds of thousands of fake posts from all parts of the world, including so many duplicates, and thus of highly unlikely authenticity. Regardless, how much an effect the amount of posted comments on either side of the argument would have had on actual public policy development and implementation is dubious. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Emails Show Obama-Era FCC Gave Special Treatment To Liberal Groups)

Now, weeks after the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System for net neutrality rules closed, the federal agency is pushing ahead, reports Politico. The vote on Pai’s proposal is likely to occur in December.

Net neutrality is an ill-defined and broad concept meaning, for the most part, that internet service providers (ISPs) have to treat all internet traffic equally and have no right to discriminate against certain forms of traffic. It also often means that firms can’t offer faster speeds to higher-paying customers, nor offer special deals and promotions. (RELATED: FCC Chair Takes Credit For America’s Favorite Cell Phone Perk Coming Back)

Proponents of the net neutrality regulations say they are vital for preempting any ISPs that may want to throttle or block internet traffic to gain an upper hand over other companies or customers. Critics argue that the rules address hypothetical situations, and are in general highly obstructive for the companies. They say it will stifle innovation and progress in the industry in which consumers will ultimately pay the price.

The Chairman’s proposal, according to Politico, will include a repeal of a general rule empowering the FCC with the ability to police ISPs and step in what they engage in unfair conduct.

Originally, it was not exactly clear whether the prospective reform would ultimately undo the agency’s ability to supervise the industry and intervene when it deems it is absolutely necessary. But Pai, in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation, said that the FTC would now be in charge of policing ISPs if the proposal passes, “just as it did before 2015.”

“For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress,” said Pai. “This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.”

Pai continued:

“But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake. It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.”

This article has been updated to reflect Chairman Pai’s statement.

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