What You Need to Know About Net Neutrality Fight

New FCC chief Ajit Pai wants to undo rules put in place in 2015
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2017 9:01 AM CDT
Battle Lines Redrawn: Net Neutrality Fight Returns
A file photo of Federal Communication Commission chief Ajit Pai.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The concept of "net neutrality" is back in the news, with new FCC chief Ajit Pai laying out his plans to undo rules for internet service providers put in place in 2015, reports Ars Technica. The details are dense, but the general battle lines are drawn: Advocates of the rules say they're necessary to prevent big ISPs from controlling what we see on the internet, while opponents such as Pai see the rules as unnecessary regulations that strangle online enterprise. Here's a look at coverage:

  • The AP has a primer on net neutrality, starting with the definition of it as "the principle that internet providers treat all web traffic equally." For example, Comcast wouldn't be allowed to block or slow down traffic to a service created by a rival.
  • The fight revolves around the arcane reclassification of ISPs as "Title II" common carriers, essentially equating them with public utilities, explains Variety.
  • Read Pai's argument here. He blames "politics" for the 2015 rule change and asks, "Do we want the government to control the internet?"

  • The Consumerist is not happy with the FCC's move. Kate Cox sums up the changes thusly: "We’d lose the law that tells companies what they can’t do and punishes them for breaking it, and instead replace it with a pinky swear from Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and everyone else that, sure, they’ll play along—until they don’t."
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation frames it this way: Most people have only one broadband service, and scrapping the rules gives ISPs "unchecked power to extract tolls from you and from businesses that wish to reach you." Yes, big content providers such as Netflix and Facebook can afford those tolls, but what about the next Facebook or Netflix? It's encouraging people to let their congressional representatives know they oppose rollback of the rules here.
  • In the opposing camp is the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which argues that Pai's move "would restore freedom and innovation that the federal government disrupted." Among other things, it argues that ISP promises not to block or slow content could be stipulated in service agreements.
  • More than 800 startups and entrepreneurs signed a letter to Pai saying that killing net neutrality might kill them, too.
  • The FCC votes on the move May 18, but this is just the start of a long fight, and Wired sees a decent chance that courts will keep net neutrality rules in place.
(More net neutrality stories.)

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