US FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to put net neutrality in the hands of the telcos by having them voluntarily pledge to follow the rules. Pai’s plan would also probably roll back Title II completely. But what does this all mean for net neutrality as we know it?
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in the US, Ajit Pai, is reportedly talking up his plans to roll back net neutrality. Pai is hoping to do it through a change in power — handing over the enforcement of net neutrality and oversight of the broadband industry back to the Federal Trade Commission.
But how would this change net neutrality, you ask? Well, the FTC would essentially have to roll back Title II because they’re prohibited from investigating “common carriers” — what enterprise ISP’s are labeled as — under today’s rules.
Right now, net neutrality is an enforced set of rules that says Internet Service Providers can’t prioritize internet traffic within their network for any sort of financial gain. That also means they can’t slow down one website over another, or charge internet companies for quicker access.
But the new rules, if Pai has his way in the coming months, would simply ask telecom companies to voluntarily pledge to follow net neutrality, apparently slapping some sort of fine or punishment for not abiding.
Well, the internet giants at Amazon, Google, Facebook and the like aren’t having it. This week they sent the Internet Association after Pai to drive their point on the matter: net neutrality is good for business and consumers. “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,” according to a document from the meeting between the two parties.
The AI also noted Title II — which was only implemented back in 2015 — didn’t have a negative impact on broadband investment like the ISP’s had worried, and that with a rollback like this ISP’s would be “in a position to develop highly detailed and comprehensive profiles of their customers – and to do so in a manner that may be completely invisible.”
When it comes down to it, trusting that ISP’s will simply follow the rules is unrealistic. If there aren’t major consequences, laws or agencies devoted to enforcing a standard — it’s probably not going to be implemented. Basic human nature and backdoor business practices will surely slip through the cracks and it’s consumers and other businesses that are going to suffer.
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