Federal regulators are proposing to scrap Obama-era rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.
“[I]n 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. That decision was a mistake. It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a statement. “Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach.”
Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, circulated a draft on Tuesday to his fellow commissioners to fully dismantle the agency’s core net neutrality rules. Pai wrote in The Wall Street Journal that he would replace existing rules with a mandate that internet service providers simply be “transparent.”
Under the Obama administration, rules were put in place that prevented internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Charter or CNBC owner Comcast from either speeding up, slowing down or blocking content from specific web services. The idea of net neutrality is to make all corners of the internet open and free for everyone at all times.
Verizon Senior Vice President Kathy Grillo said in a statement that Verizon is “encouraged” by Pai’s announcement, adding that the company believes it’s possible to protect net neutrality without “the heavy costs from unnecessary regulation.”
But Internet Association CEO Michael Beckerman said Pai’s proposal would be “the end of net neutrality as we know it.” Tech giants including Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Facebook have been vocal proponents of net neutrality.
“Consumers have little choice in their [internet service provider], and service providers should not be allowed to use this gatekeeper position at the point of connection to discriminate against websites and apps,” Beckerman said in a statement.
The FCC is set to vote on the changes on Dec. 14, and a public draft will be released three weeks before the vote, Pai said.
Politco earlier reported some details of the draft.
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.
— CNBC’s Anita Balakrishnan contributed to this report.