Paging John Oliver.
Net neutrality is once again under flame. This time, the threat comes from the government institution that’s supposed to uphold the rules the Federal Communications Commission.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced on Wednesday that he’s looking to completely gut the strong net neutrality regulations put in place under the Barack Obama administration.
“Nothing about the internet was broken in 2015, ” Paid told, speaking at the Newseum in Washington D.C.
Pai portrayed the questions as a battle between groups that want to see the governmental forces take over the internet and free-market advocates who want to make sure the internet remains free of oversight who are able to hamper innovation and investment in internet infrastructure.
“Going forward we cannot stick with regulations from the Great Depression that were meant to micromanage Ma Bell, ” Paid told, referencing the broadband regulations that also apply to phone companies.
Pai, a Donald Trump appointee, has been an outspoken critic of the net neutrality regulations put in place roughly three years ago. Those regulations were applauded by open internet advocates and protested energetically by major internet providers and telecom companies.
Net neutrality has been the source of an ongoing debate for years. The phrase “net neutrality” denotes that data flowing over the internet should be treated equally regardless of its source or destination. Net neutrality entails the internet is an level playing field wether some people were searching on Google, watching a movie on Netflix, or visiting your blog.
Internet advocates tend to argue in support of net neutrality with near-religious ardor. Without net neutrality, they alert, the internet as we know it could cease to exist, instead engraved up by major corporations. This would mean the internet is greater the open network that has served as the platform for the explosion in innovation seen in the last few decades.
It’s also a topic that can be tough to get the general public to care about. Last period the FCC was considering net neutrality regulations, John Oliver helped kick off a public firestorm over the issue.
Pai will be liberating the ordering on Wednesday, after which it will go through statements periods and then a poll. The bad news is that there’s little that can stop Pai from pushing through his repeal of the FCC’s net neutrality regulations. The good news, is that the process itself will take many months and could then be held up and even struck down in court.
The FCC’s regulations center around considering broadband internet access akin to sea or power a public utility. Those kinds of operations are regulated more aggressively than normal corporations due to their importance, as well as the lack of competition. Much like having one power company for your home, you likely simply have one internet provider.
Pai is not just looking to undo the previous change that made broadband internet a utility he wants to remove the FCC’s role altogether. Pai were allegedly planned to have internet providers construct “voluntary commitments” basically promises that would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
This would be among the most radical moves made by the FCC in matters related to net neutrality even under Republican commissioners.
So, John, how about round 2?