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FCC unveils plans to roll back net neutrality rules

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today released a draft order (via Wired) that would roll back rules put in place during the Obama administration, which were intended to ensure equal access to all content on the internet — commonly referred to as net neutrality.

Called the "Draft Order To Restore Internet Freedom And Eliminate Heavy-Handed Internet Regulations," the move comes ahead of a planned December 14 vote on the issue. With majority Republican control of the FCC's five commission seats, the vote is expected to pass.

From the draft order:

Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. 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.

The order would also move some ISP policing power to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If passed, the move would allow internet service providers (ISP) choose which content to prioritize on their network, opening up concerns that ISPs could choose to block or throttle speed to certain websites, or provide faster access to websites and services that agree to pay a fee. The concern among net neutrality advocates is that this would create an unfair landscape, with smaller services and websites being drowned out in favor of larger competitors that could afford to pay providers a fee.

The ACLU has already come out against Pai's proposal. "Internet rights are civil rights," said Jay Stanley, American Civil Liberties Union senior policy analyst. "Gutting net neutrality will have a devastating effect on free speech online. Without it, gateway corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will have too much power to mess with the free flow of information."

The FCC plans to vote on the rollback of net neutrality rules on December 14.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

54 Comments
  • As ever, if your ISP wants to sell you limited internet access JUST SAY NO! Get it from the competition instead. They tried limiting access in the UK when narrow band and the first ADSL lines got going but got out of that game early on, as customers just left. The common question with customers was 'is it unlimited?' The wrong answer meant they walked away. ISPs soon got tired of that.
  • We don't have that option in America. The corporations are in control here.
  • Not any worse than the government being in control.
  • this is simply untrue, but nice try. 
  • @bguy_1986 Yours is an incredibly ignorant comment. The government was not in control. The regulations that are now being gutted ensured nobody was in control, except for the consumer who was able to demand that he got the bandwidth he payed for. If you pay for 100 Mbps, then that is what you were owed, irrespective of which online services you use. That will now almost certainly change. Online service providers will eventually (sooner rather than later) need a boatload of money to ensure their services are distributed with the same priority as the big players. If this can't be reversed, then this is the beginning of the end of startup culture on the internet (which provided a lot of oppertunities and economic growth). It's also the beginning of corparate controlled content distribution on the internet, similar to how cable TV works today. It's ironic that those who most strongly want to protect the free market and individual choice have been brainwashed into supporting the exact opposite here. You can't gut all rules and regulations. To ensure a free market exists, you need at least those rules which ensure the consumer stays in change. Not all, but most net neutrality rules protected those freedoms. They are being targeted here.  
  • You're wrong, it was in control.  If the government is regulating the internet, it is in control.
  • @bguy_1986 So we should make murder legal. Right? Surely we wouldn't want the government protecting anyone's life, a.k.a regulating your right to live. Might as well also deregulate protections for anything you've bought and payed for too. After all, property should belong to whomever is powerful enough to take it. Right? That's just as ridiculous as the position you are taking here bguy_1986. The basic principle that is under threat is this: "all internet traffic must be treated eqaually" That principle has nothing to do with the government controlling anything. Enforcing it doesn't give the government any more powers than it has without it. It's still the private ISPs that run the show. This is comparable to the passage in the U.S. constitution that states all men (and women) are created equal (and therefore should be treated as such). Are you against that too? Although this doesn't state anything related to how we as a society want to treat people, it is very similar in the way it makes the same type of general statement about information. We need such guiding principle for both people and information to ensure they remain free and aren't forced into servituted of some contolling entiry (governmental or otherwise). What I think can and should be up for debate is whether or not Title 3 is the right mechanism by which to guarantee this principle. That is a legitimate debate, but until we have something else in place that guarantees nobody but a free market can control the flow of information, that shouldn't be touched. Of course the large ISP's who stand behind the FCC chairman don't care to debate that. They wan't the principle gone, as it stands in the way of risk reduction, profit maximization and stifling real competition. Unfortunately, you've been brainwashed/duped into supporting a position of wanting less consumer freedom!
  • You're fill of **** everyone that say it's us U.S. citizen's that are in charge of our internet service speed's, etc.
    Bullshit, the isp's are in charge.
    Why are none of us U.S. citizens not complaining that the majority of all other countries have faster internet than we do.
    Why because you're all dipshit's and by everything the U.S. Government tell's your lame asses.
    It's the U.S. Government that's in charge of every aspect of our lives, not any of us.
    It's time us U.S. citizen's all get a clue on this & put a end to it.
    How you ask, quite simple, on election day for every elected official check other in right in "NOBODY, YOU'RE ALL THIEVEN *******'S AND WE'RE SICK OF YOU WASTING OUR MONEY AND GIVING YOURSELVES RAISES THAT AREN'T EARNED.
  • There is no competition. In most areas of the US, there are only two ISPs. There are actually formal non-compete agreements that split geographic areas of the US between Comcast and TW Cable. 
  • USA USA USA!!! The land of the free hahaha
  • The land of crap more than anything.
  • Have you ever heard the term "legalized monopolies"? That's what we have in America. Usually this means that there are one, or perhaps two if you are lucky, options for a utility service. They know you have no options, so they can do what they wish so long as they get the consent of the governing body (usually a public service commission) like charge you for data overages or raising rates for stagnant increases in speed. This d-bag in charge has no concept of what these companies are doing in the guise of 'a free market internet'. Not setting ground rules as regulations allows them to f**k over everyone if they so choose, especially when the laws that bind them are turn of the 20th century telecomm laws that don't even apply. But of course, America is number one...
  • I believe "this d-bag" knows exactly what he is doing, and that is getting filthy rich under the table from the giant telecoms.
  • Yeah, you are right, I take it back.... He knows, but doesn't give a rat's underside how it screws the common man.
  • So you think nobody got rich or got donations among other kinds of "help" when companines like google lobbied for and benefited from passing Net Neutrality?
  • Negative, I know they did. It's ridiculous that its allowed on either side. I know you will never be able to stop it completely, but it shouldn't allowed to be in your face. We need to take the money out of policies, and start thinking about EVERYONES best interest.
  • But does that have to do with telecom regulations? We saw the same principles in practice in medicine, banking, among others regardless of administration. The fact of the matter is that there was absolutely nothing stopping the slime that demanded Net "Neutrality" from crafting legislation and mandate that actually did have your interests at heart and they not only failed to do that but willfully decieved the public to do so and then continue to do so becasuse what those same enitities have to lose from its repeal
  • @Avatar Apathy You think this d-bag has no concept of what he is doing? C'mon. He previously worked as a lawyer for Verizon. He knows exactly what he is doing. If he manages to gut net neutrality (pretty much assured at this point), he is guaranteed to later land a multimillion-dollar-per-year do-nothing job at Comcast or Verizon, as a reward for selling out the American consumer. Those in congress who helped elect this d-bag to the FCC have and will continue to be rewarded with handsome campaign donations. Everything is running as it "should" and they know exactly what they are doing! The people who don't know that they are doing are the american citizens. They either: have been brainwashed into the idea that any rule and any regulation is the antithesis of a free market (when in reality there is no such thing as a free market without some rules that protect its freedoms). You'd think it would be easy to understand the idea that freedoms must be protected, i.e. need protections, but apparently not... do not know, understand or care about any of this do know but couldn't be bothered to get off their couch and prefer to just bend over. Sad!
  • We can't. Lots of parts of the US have monopolies. Not fake ones. Straight up monopolies where there is only one service provider for whole areas. Or two ISPs that have faux competition. I've already commented officially against these proposals, but you can tell by Pai's expression that this is going to fall on deaf ears. Trump appointed him to this position, one that is supposed to protect citizens' rights to the internet. He was a leader at Verizon before this.
  • Get it from the competition? That's hilarious. The only competition to my ISP is DSL. 
  • govt/corporate collusion has created monopoly isp with no competition in many markets
  • I would recommend the same BUT in some places competition is very limited. I know people want to blame corruption- and that is there, but it is that corruption may be so on a local, municipal, and state level rather than a federal one. A lot of it is infrastructure so the only way to get more options is to live in a city. I grew up in a small town right on the border with a more developed city (before broadband and DSL and even dial up), and there was literally 1 cable provider and back in 80's money cost over $100 dollars a month for the equivalent of a basic roster of about 20 channels. While that town did graduate to offer more competition, it was only with added options like satelite with just one broadband provider still in the area.
  • Well, people get an opportunity to vote.  When they choose there are a pluses and minuses.  There are some who are really concerned about consumers and there are those who only care about the business community.  Well, there's no doubt in my mind who will pay for this new freedom ISPs will have.  Get ready to open up your wallets.
  • The sad part is, Comcast is literally my ONLY choice for high speed internet. I also can't go without, because I'm required to have it for my job. This whole thing seriously sucks.
  • Same thing here with Cox, and they are sticking it in me now. If I don't want to pay extra on top of my already high bill, I can only download/update 2-3 Xbox games a month with my other streaming usage.
  • And there are some that don't trust the government.
  • To be more accurate, it was either about caring about the business community in repealing it or in the case of net neutrality, about the business community that was most in bed with the previous administration 
  • *This comment is only available to Comcast Elite Gold Subscribers. Please contact your customer support representative to upgrade your internet plan*
  • There may be trouble ahead... It really sucks how over a barrel US consumers are...
  • We'll just have to wait until the Dems are in control and fire the Pubes.
  • They are so spineless that they will just sit with the current rules in place for another 7 years. I'm so sick of this back and forth wishy washy crap. Quit worrying about your reelection or receiving a check from your lobbyist and make some real change happen!
  • The republicans haven't done **** so far, I don't know what you are complaining about.  They unvailed a plan, just like they were going to get rid of Obamacare, build a wall, ban abortion.
      As a republican, we gave them the house, senate, and the whitehouse.  Pretty much the only thing we got was a conservative supreme court judge and a lot of hot air.  You liberals cry around for what?  Nothing is going to happen because a bunch of repulicans are liberals just like you.
  • Seems like deja vu to me, just with a different party title.
  • First the rich get massive tax cuts to be paid by the rest of the populace and now you get raped by the ISP's, if only there had been a way to prevent all this pain.
  • Well you guys chose smart presedent, what did you expect to happen?
  • I'm Canadian, it's mildly amusing to sit back and watch all this happen.
  • the thing is trump lost on the popular vote. 'you guys' didn't choose him. voting is b.s. in america. our legislation system has always been b.s.. slavery is legal.
  • Move somewhere else when voting isn't b.s....
    California & New York and a few other highly populated liberal states shouldn't control who is president.  Different ways of living in Utah and other rural states that aren't very populated.  They should get a say in it as well.   And the whole system would work much better if we didn't give the federal government so much power.  But liberals/socialists and rinos screwed that up.  States should have a majority of the power.
  • quit watching garbage.  Nothing has been passed yet.
  • Why put smiley face? I hate him!😑
  • There is ZERO competition where I live and they rip you off in the background. They charge you for a speed rate but secretly lower it unless you complain about it.  Choices in Maryland (near Annapolis): 1. Verizon - about $40 dollars cheaper than Comcast at the moment for top tier package 2. Comcast - higher price and lower internet speeds (upgrading network but not ready). If you use Comcast I suggest testing your speed frequentl and complain when it drops. I suspect their doing something shady in the background, but cannot prove it. I have had my bill lowered each time I complained about it. A high tier package from Comcast Internet/TV/Phone blast internet speed will set you back around $230 dollars a month. Similar Verizon package is around $190 a month. I know because I just checked since I was planning to jump ship and join Verizon.
  • I can't believe how much you guys have to pay! We can get up to 76Mbps over fibre with copper for last mile for under £50 a month. Cable subscribers can get up to 300Mbps and TV for under £100 a month. We're soon gonna see copper network speeds up to 300Mbps as well! Even if you take TV packages it can still be less than £100 a month!
  • 150Mbs for $90/mo without a package in New Orleans. That's with a 1 TB data cap and either $10 per 50Gb over or an additional $30 for 500GB or unlimited for $50.
  • Deeply sad to see Americans go down this path with their side of the internet.
  • Do you have cell service? Because this d-bag wants to classify that as broadband. So now you technically DO have another choice. You'll have to pony up the green to Comcast/ATT/Time Warner or pony up to your wireless provider. See what they did there? They moved the goal posts so they could try to make this sound like a good thing. We elected a business man to the white house and are all suprised when he put CEO's and lobbyists in positions of power.
  • Nice. So now the old telecom laws apply again! I'm getting more and more annoyed with this crap. If only LTE wasn't so slow, or they had true unlimited data, I would just pay once and done. It's not currently a viable option at the moment for those of us that enjoy not buffering.
  • 5G cell service can shake the entire broadband market up. Really have to wait for that for liberation and true competition.
  • @Kingtigre. Yeah... with a less votes than the other party... 0.0.. ah only the US will have such a system... just like the imperial system when rest of the world uses metric and simple mathematics to determine the winner of a election... where the winner is the party with the most votes... lol. Sure, I get the logic behind the US electoral college system... but it's not the 18th century anymore lol.
  • The principal remains. The more stopgaps there are, the better. Second of all the person that got "more" votes won deciding districts with magical 150% turnouts, got leads by approximately the same amount as the felons who had their voting rights immediately reinstated by a political crony, and got a minimum 5 million+ illegal votes from dead and non-citizen voters to contribute to her 2.5 million vote "lead".
  • what is your point?
  • Ajit-My-Pants needs a good punch in those snaggle teeth of his.
  • I feel sorry for you lot in the US, the ISPs in the US call the shots... whereas rest of the world treats ISP's as a utility provider lol.
  • Billionaires looking out for billionaires
  • The title was duplicitously coined to sound inocuous and like it's doing you a favor- IT IS NOT. Not rolling back leaves the door open to incremental nationalization, which is what you don't want. You DO NOT want a centralized force to dictate anything you can or cannot do, and this isn't about the ISP's having too much power- this is in part about giving coroporatist entiries like google and facebook increased monopolization and getting big brother to keep their competitors at bay. At its core it was a fascistic policy to begin with. There's a reason why they try to win you over with marketing, propaganda campaigns, and 1 minute-long "news" stories to win your consensus but never actually discuss it in depth on a public forum or encourage you to do it on your own. Net Neutrality made only a couple promises that sounded decent but this was just beautiful gift wrapping and ribbon hiding nothing but a nugget of s*** on the inside