NY AG investigating 'massive scheme' to influence FCC comments on net neutrality

Gladys Abbott
November 23, 2017

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations created to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown with consumer groups and internet companies who fear the move will stifle competition and innovation.

"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet", Pai said in a statement Tuesday. He shared the same view that the internet was vibrant before the regulations became effective.

After becoming Chairman, Pai had said he meant to "fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation" in telecommunications. "They were the ones who told us, look it's hard enough as it is for us to raise capital and invest in some of these areas, especially in rural or low income areas, these regulations don't make that any easier", Pai said. "Until the FCC chose to save us from ourselves by invoking Great Depression era regulations designed for Ma Bell".

Added Verizon in a statement: "We're very encouraged by Chairman Pai's announcement today that the FCC will move forward next month to restore the successful light-touch regulatory framework for internet services", Verizon said in a statement.

[T] he process the FCC has employed to consider potentially sweeping alterations to current net neutrality rules has been corrupted by the fraudulent use of Americans' identities - and the FCC has been unwilling to assist my office in our efforts to investigate this unlawful activity.

Pai was Associate General Counsel between 2001 and 2003 for Verizon, one of the companies that gains from his ruling.

"It's a very odd line of business for the federal agency to be involved in", he said.

Enter the net neutrality debate.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Instead of the FCC regulating how ISPs operate, the Federal Trade Commission would handle enforcement of net neutrality violations.

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Net-neutrality rules have been a political hot potato for over a decade. The FCC has since been flooded with 21 million messages of protest with plans for discussion to be formally held this December.

Read the entire draft order here.

"What you see in a number of different sectors is a desire for scale", said Levin. "To me, that was putting the cart before the horse".

"We're much more anxious about the opposite, that smaller players will get squeezed out by larger players who have the resources to buy what's really an acceptable level of service, and they're going to get stuck with an unacceptable level of service", Dillon said. "That's something I think was sorely lacking in the past administration".

Misuse of identity should concern those who are in favor of net neutrality as well as those who want the rules to be repealed, he wrote. Capital expenditure in broadband declined by 5.6 percent since Title II was adopted in 2015, which amounted to over $3.6 billion in lost investment.

The national cap says that companies owning multiple TV stations may only reach 39 percent of all USA households. It worries the new rules might hurt telehealth.

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said Pai's proposal is "dangerous and wrong". "The history of the internet from 1996 until 2015 is one of unparalleled innovation".

We've all gotten used to streaming videos, Wi-Fi, and all the benefits of the internet. "So, that's definitely what we're proposing to return to, the bipartisan consensus [that] governed the internet for many years". The FCC, as pretty much America's media ombudsmen, have outlaid their plans to scrap Net Neutrality suggesting that Obama's protective legislation "went too far". In recent years, some broadband companies, such as AT&T, have tried offering discounts on internet service to Americans as long as they agree to let the company monitor their Web browsing history, for example. The rules mandate that they give equal access to all online content and apps.

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