Published: Wed, April 26, 2017
Business | By Jorge Reeves

Internet firms winding up for a fight on 'net neutrality'

Internet firms winding up for a fight on 'net neutrality'

US Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by Trump in January, will deliver a speech entitled "The Future of Internet Regulation" on Wednesday and is expected to begin seeking public input on repealing the elements contained in the 2015 net neutrality rules. Every indication is that Chairman Pai is on the verge of announcing the details of his plan to gut net neutrality, an assault which would be the capstone of an agenda riddled with industry giveaways at the expense of consumers, competition, and small business.

In 2012, internet companies took on the entertainment industry in a fight over online piracy.

Pai has expressed support for a set of net neutrality principles, and has reportedly been mulling a plan in which telecom and cable providers would agree to abide by rules on a voluntary basis.

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Nearly two dozen smaller ISPs have told FCC chairman Ajit Pai that the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order reclassifying ISPs as Title II common carrier telecom services "hangs like a black cloud", a cloud they are urging him to dispel ASAP.

Last week, he met with Silicon Valley companies such as Apple and Facebook, and he met with telecom providers earlier this month. Thousands of websites, including Wikipedia, one of the internet's most well-trafficked sites, temporarily went dark to protest legislation that would have given the government power to "blacklist" sites from the internet. The bills, which aimed to curb illegal downloads and sales of movies and songs as well as other products, were dropped. "He's continuing to ignore the mountains of evidence showing that the agency's net neutrality rules are protecting internet users while spurring on investment and innovation".

Some four million comments poured into the FCC in favor of the net neutrality rules in 2015, partly driven by comedian John Oliver, who explained the issue on his HBO show Last Week Tonight.

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Fortunately, in 2015 the Federal Communications Commission put in place light touch net neutrality rules that not only prohibit certain harmful practices, but also allow the Commission to develop and enforce rules to address new forms of discrimination.

"I certainly think we will try every possible avenue, including reaching back out to John Oliver", said Engine's executive director, Evan Engstrom.

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