FCC to hand over internet oversight to FTC, repeal landmark 2015 net neutrality rules

The new rules, likely to be effective from January 1, 2018, are also likely to attract court challenges.

In a development that is likely to be a milestone for the history of the internet, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission plans on handing over the oversight of internet service providers to

another federal agency, as it moves to revoke the landmark 2015 “net neutrality” rules.

On Monday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had said in a statement that agencies “will work together to take targeted action against bad actors.”

Under Pai’s proposal, the FCC will no longer bar any specific practice of an ISP but will instead require that they voluntarily disclose if they have throttled, blocked or have offered paid prioritization for internet traffic.

As per FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the proposal “is a confusing, lackluster, reactionary afterthought: an attempt to paper over weaknesses in the chairman’s draft proposal repealing the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules.”

Taking a similar line, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, said “FTC enforcement would happen long after the fact — many months, if not years, after consumers and businesses have been harmed.”

Chris Lewis, vice president of Public Knowledge, an advocacy group, is also apprehensive of the proposal and said, the FCC is “joining forces with the FTC to say it will only act when a broadband provider is deceiving the public. This gives free reign to broadband providers to block or throttle your broadband service as long as they inform you.”

Pai’s proposal represents a win for big ISPs, including Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc, all of whom had opposed the 2015 rules.

His proposal is opposed by large tech companies such as Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc.

The new rules are expected to take effect in January and is likely to draw court challenges.


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