FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reveals plan to overturn net neutrality: 5 things to know

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said he intends to release a proposal to dismantle Obama-era net neutrality regulations Nov. 22. The FCC will hold a final vote on the proposal at the agency's open meeting Dec. 14.

Here are five things to know about the proposal, titled the "Restoring Internet Freedom Order."

1. The rules, established in 2015 and often referred to as "net neutrality," prohibit broadband companies from prioritizing or blocking some content over others. They also prevent internet service providers from charging additional fees for select services, such as high-quality streaming, the New York Times reports. Mr. Pai's proposal would make some of these decisions voluntary.

2. In a statement Nov. 21, Mr. Pai called the regulations "heavy-handed" and claimed they "depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation."

"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet," he said. "Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that's best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate."

3. While some stakeholders, such as internet service providers AT&T and Verizon, agree with Mr. Pai's assertion net neutrality hinders innovation, others worry the proposal would harm access to the internet for consumers and small businesses. Internet companies, for example, have voiced concerns the proposal empowers broadband companies to act as "gatekeepers" to information and entertainment.

"We are disappointed that the proposal announced today by the FCC fails to maintain the strong net neutrality protections that will ensure the internet remains open for everyone," Erin Egan, a vice president at Facebook, said in a statement to the New York Times.

4. A draft proposal garnered more than 22 million comments from stakeholders — including healthcare groups — since Mr. Pai opened it to public feedback in May, according to Reuters. In July, for example, the American Academy of Family Physicians told Mr. Pai the proposal may lead to unintended healthcare consequences, allowing broadband providers to restrict the flow of health information.

"The internet forms the backbone on which the healthcare industry is building capabilities for health information exchange," AAFP wrote. "Lack of health information exchange is literally life-threatening. It is paramount for the health and well-being of U.S. citizens that no barriers be placed hindering the free and open appropriate exchange of health information."

5. In response to concerns regarding whether undoing net neutrality would hamper access to information, FCC officials noted blocking or slowing certain content might fall under the umbrella of anticompetitive practices, to be overseen by the Federal Trade Commission or the U.S. Department of Justice, according to the New York Times.

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