FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to undo Obama administration policies through a new set of rules he dubs "Restoring Internet Freedom." The deadline for comments on Pai's rules is Monday, July 17. People can file reply comments that respond to issues addressed in the first round of comments until August 16.
On 12 July, these leading tech companies will join more than 170 organisations which will "slow down" their services to protest the proposed change. The protest is an attempt to simulate what could potentially happen to popular websites if net neutrality rules are scrapped.
The companies will show advertisements and pop ups which encourage users to comment on a dedicated campaign website.
Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler reclassified broadband service under Title II of the Communications Act, which treats Internet service like a traditional telecom or utility service, in 2015. Previously, the FCC classified broadband as an information service, which has less oversight. Wheeler also put forward what he called "bright line" rules that prohibit service providers from blocking content, throttling traffic or setting up Internet "fast lanes."
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online.
Net Neutrality means an internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks — and shouldn’t block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with the content you view or post online.
Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open internet.
Why is it an issue now?
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with the support of the Obama administration introduced new net neutrality regulations in 2015, after an extensive campaign by activist groups and tech companies. Those rules put ISPs in the same category as other telecommunication companies.
But President Trump is a vocal critic of the measures, and he appointed a net neutrality opponent and a former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai, to chair the FCC at the beginning of this year. Pai said he fears that internet service providers are not investing in critical infrastructure such as connections to low income or rural households because the net neutrality rules prevent them from making money from their investments.