Chairman Ajit Pai said on Tuesday the Federal Communications Commission will vote to repeal its net neutrality rules next month.
The current guidelines — put in place in 2015 under President Obama — prevent internet service providers from creating “fast lanes” or slowing down content from certain outlets. Pai called the 2015 decision a “mistake” in a statement on Tuesday.
“For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress,” said Pai. “This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.
“In 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet,” added Pai. “That decision was a mistake. It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.”
Pai said he’ll lay out his proposal on Wednesday, three weeks before the FCC votes on Dec. 14. Appointed by President Trump earlier this year, Pai has said he wants to overturn the decision to reclassify broadband providers as “common carriers.” Without this classification, the FCC would be unable to stop ISPs from playing favorites or charging competitors higher prices to reach customers.
“As a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015,” added Pai. “Notably, my proposal will put the federal government’s most experienced privacy cop, the FTC, back on the beat to protect consumers’ online privacy.”
Advocates of net neutrality argue gutting the current framework would allow giants like AT&T and Verizon to favor their own content over streaming heavyweights like Netflix. It would also stymie smaller companies, unable to pay for fast lanes, from competing with more established players.
Pai’s proposal is expected to be approved next month, with three Republican commisioners on the five-person committee.