WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday proposed repealing tough net neutrality rules for online traffic, following through on a promise earlier this year to roll back the controversial Obama-era regulations.
Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, opposed the rules when they were enacted in 2014, when the FCC was controlled by Democrats.
“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet,” Pai said in a written statement.
“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,” he said.
Under Pai’s plan, which he said would be publicly released Wednesday ahead of a Dec. 14 vote, the Federal Trade Commission would take over the job of policing Internet service providers for online privacy.
Pai called for a repeal in April and the Republican-controlled FCC voted 2-1 along party lines a month later to begin a formal rule-making process.
The agency now has a 3-2 Republican majority. Pai’s two GOP colleagues, Mike O’Rielly and Brendan Carr, are expected to support the repeal.
The agency received more than 22 million comments about the fate of the rules, which are supported by public interest groups and liberal activists but opposed by telecommunications companies and conservatives.
The rules prohibit AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp., Charter Communications Inc. and other Internet service providers from blocking websites, slowing connection speeds and charging extra for faster delivery of certain content.
To enforce the rules, the FCC classified broadband as a more highly regulated utility-like service under Title 2 of federal telecommunications law. That allowed some of the oversight to shift to the FCC from the FTC.
AT&T, other telecom companies and industry trade groups sued to block the rules, arguing the FCC exceeded its authority in approving the regulations.
Last year, a federal appeals court upheld the regulations. The ruling could make it difficult for the FCC to repeal the net neutrality rules, and public interest groups are expected to challenge the move in court.
-Jim Puzzanghera, ©2017 Los Angeles Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.