NEW YORK — The Federal Communications Commission formally released a draft of its plan to kill net-neutrality rules, which equalized access to the internet and prevented broadband providers from favoring their own apps and services.
Now the question is: What comes next?
The FCC’s move will allow companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to charge internet companies for speedier access to consumers and to block outside services they don’t like. The change also axes a host of consumer protections, including privacy requirements and rules barring price gouging and unfair practices.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says the plan eliminates unnecessary regulation. But many worry that his proposal will stifle small tech firms and leave ordinary citizens more at the mercy of cable and wireless companies.
“It would be a radical departure from what previous (FCC) chairs, of both parties, have done,” said Gigi Sohn, a former adviser to Tom Wheeler, the Obama-era FCC chairman who enacted the net neutrality rules now being overturned. “It would leave consumers and competition completely unprotected.”
During the last Republican administration, that of George W. Bush, FCC policy held that people should be able to see what they want on the internet and to use the services they preferred. But attempts to enshrine that net-neutrality principle in regulation never held up in court, at least until Wheeler pushed through the current rules now slated for termination.
Pai’s proposals stand a good chance of enactment at the next FCC meeting in December. But there will be lawsuits to challenge them.