Feds Prepare To Police The Internet After FCC Nixes Net Neutrality Rules

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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The Federal Communications Commission announced plans Monday to work with another agency on efforts to police the web once net neutrality rules are eliminated.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to nix an Obama-era rule Thursday prohibiting internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating against certain websites. It will forge an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to police the internet in the absence of the rule.

FCC’s proposal would eliminate the conduct rules governing broadband companies and transmit authority over the ISP industry to the FTC, which is responsible for protecting consumers from rampant abuse from businesses.

“Instead of saddling the Internet with heavy-handed regulations, we will work together to take targeted action against bad actors,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

The FTC will be tasked with targeting internet providers that engage in unfair or deceptive practices, but some activists believe the agency is not equipped to tackle possible web-based crimes and think the FCC should be roped into the process.

“The agreement announced today between the FCC and FTC is a confusing, lackluster, reactionary afterthought: an attempt to paper over weaknesses in the Chairman’s draft proposal repealing the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules,” Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in a statement about the agreement.

Net neutrality is a broad concept that means ISPs must treat all internet traffic the same. It also often means that firms cannot offer faster speeds to higher-paying customers, nor offer special deals and promotions. Conservatives, libertarians, and a small chorus of free market advocates claim the rules are unnecessary.

Opponents of net neutrality believe the rules only address hypothetical situations and unduly restrict innovation and progress in an industry in which consumers will ultimately pay the price. Advocates of Pai’s decision also say that if any unfair throttling or blocking occurs, the FTC, in loose partnership with the FCC, can crack down on a case-by-case basis, just as it did prior to 2015.

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