FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Rules; Pai Lashes Out At Internet Giants

The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to repeal utility-like oversight on internet service providers, delivering regulatory reversal sought by Comcast ( CMCSA ), AT&T ( T ), Verizon Communications ( VZ ) and other ISPs.

Urged on by Chairman Ajit Pai, a Trump administration appointee, the GOP-majority panel jettisoned "Title 2" regulations that were imposed by the FCC in 2015 under the direction of then-President Barack Obama. The FCC is handing off enforcement of consumer protection related to broadband issues to another federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission.

Pai said the FCC's new rules will "return regulatory parity to the internet economy."

He said some giant internet companies engage in anti-consumer behavior, while ISPs have been unfairly targeted by regulators.

"Some giant Silicon Valley platforms favor imposing heavy-handed regulations on other parts of the Internet ecosystem. But all too often, they don't practice what they preach," Pai added. "Edge providers regularly block content that they don't like. They regularly decide what news, search results, and products you see - and perhaps more importantly, what you don't. And many thrive on the business model of charging to place content in front of eyeballs. What else is "Accelerated Mobile Pages" or promoted tweets but prioritization?"

The five-member FCC includes three Republicans and two Democrats.

Consumer groups lobbied against the repeal of utility-like regulations, claiming that the FCC is undermining bi-partisan support for rules that require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally. Critics say Pai's proposal opens the door to "paid prioritization," a term for allowing providers to charge websites for guaranteed service levels in private agreements.

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Comcast, in a blog, reiterated that it will not block or throttle web access and has no plans to engage in paid prioritization.

Big-cap internet companies such as Alphabet 's ( GOOGL ) Google and Facebook ( FB ) have been less vocal than consumer groups in opposing Pai's proposal. While Google and others may oppose the regulatory changes, they're dealing with greater regulatory scrutiny over the social media policies.


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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