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FCC chair plans to rollback net neutrality protections

Net neutrality protections

Net neutrality under fire

Net neutrality protections are under serious threat, but there’s still time to save the Internet.

As foreshadowed for several months, and widely reported this past week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has announced his plan to undo Title II classification of Internet service providers (read the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking). Popularly referred to as net neutrality, the rules were broadly aimed at leveling the playing field for Internet companies. Having become law in 2015 under former FCC chair Tom Wheeler, Title II classification protects not only online competition and innovation, but free speech, privacy and the delivery of content without interference by monopolistic ISPs.

Ajit Pai considers net neutrality protections under the FCC unnecessary and says he plans to hand regulatory jurisdiction of broadband providers back to the Federal Trade Commission, despite arguments that the FTC is not prepared to adequately handle the responsibility.

Last week, Pai’s press release stated that his plan will “restore Internet Freedom by ending government micromanagement and returning to the bipartisan regulatory framework that worked well for decades.”

However, the net neutrality rules already in place give consumers Internet freedom by preventing ISPs from dividing up the Internet and charging subscription fees to access groups of sites and services. The following images depict the kind of packages we might expect to see from service providers if these rules were to disappear.

Net neutrality protections

See what the future Internet could look like under Republican-controlled FCC via Techdirt.
Images of what the Internet could look like under Republican-controlled FCC via Techdirt

What’s more, without Title II regulations in place, big ISPs could return to their wicked ways of throttling Internet traffic, setting arbitrary data caps and lying to their customers about their practices. Since most Americans only have one option for high-speed Internet service as it is, rolling back the FCC’s net neutrality rules would mean giving big ISPs the potential to control our connections, speed and so much more. It would allow them to extract tolls from businesses that wish to reach target audiences while smaller, newer businesses might not be able to afford to compete.

Simply stated, Title II classification allows the FCC to force ISPs to behave, now the FCC wants to allow those companies to monitor themselves. Broadband companies have been quick to praise the proposal and we needn’t look too far into the past to understand why.

The pushback

We at Ting believe in a free and open Internet so we’re disappointed to hear Pai’s proposal. Anyone paying attention to the buzz around the topic can safely conclude that the Internet, as a collective, isn’t too thrilled with the announcement either.

“By attacking net neutrality, Ajit Pai is potentially opening the floodgates for widespread internet censorship by ISPs,” Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, said. “Hell hath no fury like the internet scorned.”

There’s still time to save the Internet

Pai’s proposal is going to be up for vote at the FCC’s open meeting on May 18. If approved, they will begin hearing public feedback on the plan so let’s be prepared to give it to them. Here’s what we can do right now to keep our Internet free and open.

Use the map on this page to find a town hall meeting near you and show up in full force:

Tell Congress to oppose any attempt by Chairman Pai to roll back the FCC’s net neutrality protections:

Write the FCC and ask them to reconsider their decision:

You can call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322. At the prompt, press 1, then 4, then 2, then 0 to be connected to an agent and file a complaint.

You can also email Ajit Pai and let him know what you think:

Own a small business? Petition Congress to pass the CRA.

Further reading: 4 Misleading Things ISPs And The FCC Need To Stop Claiming About Net Neutrality