The Federal Communications Commission has kicked off its rollback of the net neutrality rules put in place under the Obama Administration.
Led by new chairman Ajit Pai, the commission voted two-to-one to focus on two issues: whether the FCC has the authority to enforce an “open” internet, and if the Title II designation — which prevents service providers from charging for “fast lanes” or slowing down access to particular sites — should be cast aside.
Chairman Pai and his Republican counterpart, Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, voted in favor of the measure, while Democrat Mignon Clyburn voted against it.
The decision was a body blow to the FCC’s 2015 “Open Internet” ruling, which had three core stipulations:
1) Broadband providers cannot block access to “legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.”
2) Broadband providers cannot “throttle,” or slow down, access to “lawful internet traffic.”
3) Broadband providers cannot create “fast lanes,” or favor certain sites over others for money, and cannot prioritize content from its affiliates.
Several giant service providers have major stakes in home entertainment — AT&T owns DirecTV, and Comcast and Spectrum both provide cable and internet. Without these rules, little would be in the way of stopping them from charging competing streaming services like Netflix and Youtube.
A “public comment” will now begin, where companies and advocates both in favor of and against current net neutrality can submit their thoughts. The commission will then decide later this year on if it’ll repeal the 2015 ruling.