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As Expected, Trump FCC Chairman to Put Net Neutrality on the Chopping Block

Ajit Pai unveiled plans Wednesday to roll back Obama-era Open Internet policies

In a speech Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday confirmed his intent to reverse the agency’s pro-net neutrality policies.

Pai announced that at FCC’s next meeting on May 18, he will introduce a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will undo several actions taken during the Obama administration to promote an open internet policy. Otherwise known as net neutrality, those policies are intended to ensure that internet content is treated equally by service providers.

The most significant action Pai intends to take is to change the classification of internet service providers. From 2005-2015, ISPs were classified as “information services,” similar to cable companies. The classification severely limits the regulatory authority of the FCC, so in 2015, FCC reclassified high speed internet services providers as “common carriers,” making them similar to phone companies and thus subject to a higher degree of regulation.

The full details on the proposed rules will be made public on Thursday. After the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is presented on May 18, there will be a 60-day public comment period, followed by a 30-day reply period before the rules can be enacted.

A member of the FCC Committee before becoming its chairman under Donald Trump, Pai has been a longtime critic of net neutrality and of telecommunication regulation generally. In a keynote speech on Tuesday in front of the National Association of Broadcasters, he promised a similar regulatory approach for television, promising to “get unnecessary rules out of the way.”