LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Sparking what will likely be a contentious debate, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Tuesday announced his long-awaited plan to overturn most of the so-called net neutrality rules approved two years ago.
Initially adopted by the FCC in February of 2015, net neutrality rules are designed to maintain an “open internet” by preventing internet service providers (ISPs) — such as Comcast or Spectrum — from blocking or slowing speeds to certain websites or apps. Broadband providers cannot deliberately throttle down speeds or favor content from their affiliates.
Those in favor of net neutrality say it prevents ISPs from striking deals with certain companies or streaming providers – such as say Netflix or Hulu — to load their data faster.
Those against it argue it promotes government over-regulation that stifles competition and raises prices for consumers.
In a statement Tuesday, Pai called the 2015 rules “heavy-handed, utility-style regulations” which “depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.”
Under Pai’s “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” proposal, the government would “stop micromanaging the internet. Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”
He will unveil the full draft of his proposal on Wednesday. It will be voted on by the five commissioners at the Dec. 14 FCC meeting. The FCC is made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, and the proposal is expected to pass on a party-line vote.
The plan received an immediate response from some of Pai’s colleagues. Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr came out in full support.
“The government should not control or heavily regulate Internet access,” Carr wrote.
Meanwhile, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was critical.
“Our Internet economy is the envy of the world because it is open to all,” Rosenworcel wrote. “This proposal tears at the foundation of that openness. It hands broadband providers the power to decide what voices to amplify, which sites we can visit, what connections we can make, and what communities we create.”
Read Pai’s full statement here.