FCC Chief Rails Against Net Neutrality 'Mistake'

On Tuesday morning, Donald Trump's FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, spoke at a broadband-industry conference and falsely claimed that Net Neutrality protections contribute to uncertainty in the marketplace and a decline in industry investments in networks. Rules developed to tame a 1930s monopoly were imported into the 21st century to regulate the Internet. "We were not living in a digital dystopia", he said.

Recognising that government has a role to play when it comes to broadband, the FCC's new approach would not be zero regulation, but light-touch regulation-rules backed by long-standing principles of competition law, suggesting that America's approach to broadband policy would be practical, not ideological. Individual companies large and small significantly increased their broadband-infrastructure investments following the rules' adoption.

"But today, the torch at the FCC has been passed to a new generation, dedicated to renewal as well as change".

Net neutrality was introduced for this sole goal, which now Pai seems to ignore, calling it an outdated policy, when it clearly is not.

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"It's evident the rules were a mistake", Pai said, referring to the utility-style regulations that Wheeler helped put in place. He had been widely expected to dismantle net neutrality to allow telos to charge people what they like. However, the real limit the FCC has set is that this resulted in rules focusing only on the entity (i.e., ISP) and not the data itself.

The honorary Internet Innovation Alliance chairman goes on to say, "Applying different privacy rules to the same online data by saddling only ISPs with new regulations doesn't make sense".

"The truth is that consumers like getting something for free", Pai argues.

"In the days following our decision, all four national wireless providers in the United States announced new unlimited data plans or expanded their existing ones", Pai stated.

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Pai also argued that deregulation will lead to benefits for consumers, and held up recent moves by wireless carriers as an example.

"After finally gaining basic privacy protections for broadband providers past year, it's outrageous that Chairman Pai will now remove the simple rule that internet service providers must take reasonable data security measures to protect their customers' information". Indeed, Pai's objective isn't to kill privacy rules outright, but to make sure they are built into a "comprehensive and uniform regulatory framework."

Speaking at the conference, Pai's chief of staff said the chairman does not believe broadcasters should have to pay out-of-pocket for the shift, and that Pai will remain in contact with industry stakeholders to determine whether the $1.75 billion reimbursement fund is viable. The actions he's taken since becoming chairman last month show he's anything but.

These were a series of investigations the FCC started after ISPs were not counting traffic to certain sites against a user's data caps, driving traffic to selected domains on the detriment of others, who the user was limited by a data cap when accessing.

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