Net Neutrality: Who is Pushing Back on the Ajit Pai Regulatory Compromise?

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Mark Van Scyoc | Shutterstock.com

Trump’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, has successfully pushed for the removal of Obama-era net neutrality regulations. His plan, which he has not fully detailed, includes handing over net neutrality policing to the more lax FTC and allowing major ISPs like Comcast and AT&T to voluntarily respect net neutrality.

Merely by including a written guarantee that no paid prioritization, throttling, or website blocking will occur, ISPs are being given the chance to regulate their own net neutrality policies by FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

Ajit Pai wants ISPs to voluntarily regulate net neutrality without punishment from the FCC.Click To Tweet

The Internet Association, a lobbying group represented by the likes of Facebook and Google, told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission that they should keep net neutrality regulations intact.

Few Against Many

During Open Internet and the Title II framework deliberation in 2014, you may have sent your comments to the FCC because John Oliver told you to. If you are unaware of what happened, please check out a rather vulgar compilation of the public comments to then FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.

The point is, more people commented on the Open Internet rules than any other issue in FCC history.

That indicates that millions of Internet users are against lackadaisical net neutrality policies Ajit Pai is recommending.

In addition to all of us at home, we mentioned the lobbying group, the Internet Association, which represents the interests of the following companies (just to name a few):

Internet Association members | Arstechnica.net

Seems like a pretty strong opposition, right?

Internet Association CEO Michael Beckerman wrote in an ex-parte filing that detailed his meeting with Chairman Ajit Pai, “The Internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition, and innovation online. In other words, existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact. The OI Order is working well and has been upheld by a DC Circuit panel. Further, IA preliminary economic research suggests that the OI Order did not have a negative impact on broadband Internet access service (BIAS) investment.”

What’s more, the IA told Pai and the Commission that net neutrality should be “enforced by the expert agency, namely the FCC,” rather than the reportedly more lax FTC.

These companies are mostly concerned with ISP’s use of chokepoints to artificially slow traffic and make financial demands of web-based services, as when Netflix streaming was being throttled by Comcast prior to 2015.

Big telecom companies, including Verizon and AT&T, represented by USTelecom, also met with Ajit Pai. Unfortunately for those of us holding our breath on the future of our internet, the details of their meeting were not shared.

What is Most Likely to Happen?

Chairman Ajit Pai, since being appointed by President Donald Trump, has been aggressively rolling back Obama-era FCC policies in the following ways:

  1. Early on, Pai stopped nine companies from providing discounted Internet service rates to low-income customers, despite the fact that none of the prohibited companies had ongoing discounted deals.
Ajit Pai | AFP | Getty Images | Dailykos.com

2. Pai nixed all ongoing zero-rating inquires, which looked into how companies removed charges from customers using certain applications through their service.

3. He also stopped efforts to keep prison phone rates down and incentivize more competition in the cable box market.

Despite claiming that he would be pro-consumer, many witnesses to his actions claim Pai has carried out a primarily pro-big telecom agenda.

What do you think? How could Ajit Pai surface as a “consumer hero” like Forbes asserts? How could we continue to see net neutrality peeled back?

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