Monday 17/12/2018 - 01:55 am


FCC Chair Ajit Pai defends net neutrality repeal to doubters at Mobile World Congress


2018.02.27 03:26

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai defended his agencys repeal of net neutrality regulations at the mobile industrys annual conference here, saying the lighter rules set to replace them will amount to "targeted enforcement."

"Our order restoring Internet freedom merely restored the same basic framework that governed the Internet for most of its existence," said Pai, who had skipped an appearance at the large tech gathering CES in January, reportedly due to death threats.

Last week, the National Rifle Association gave him the "Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire" award — in the form of a rifle, to be housed at a NRA museum — at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, citing his successful efforts to repeal the Obama-era regulations.

Mondays audience was far less sympathetic than that at CPAC, with many raising their hands when the moderator asked who was against the repeal of the 2015 net neutrality regulations.

Pai responded that, "generally speaking I would hope that public opinion over time was based more on facts and less on public relations."

The former Verizon lawyer has led the rollback of net neutrality regulations in the U.S., the federal rules that prevent Internet service providers from blocking, slowing or prioritizing content on their broadband networks. Barring legal or other challenges the rules are set to be repealed April 23.

Nearly two dozen state attorneys general have filed a suit in federal court challenging the rules that would replace them, which require Internet Service Providers to disclose any blocking, throttling or prioritization of content and leave it to the public to make a stink if ISPs arent acting fairly.

The repeal of the old regulations was highly controversial, inviting a record number of public comments — though many of them were found to be fake — and calls to action from high-profile figures such as HBOs John Oliver and pioneers of modern-day computing, such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who warned a repeal could hurt smaller Websites.

The cable and telecom companies, which had lobbied for the repeal on the grounds that the regulations curbed their investment in new infrastructure, said they also supported the concept of net neutrality and have vowed to never block or throttle legal content.

Theyve been less firm on a commitment to avoid prioritizing certain content, the so-called Internet fast lanes the Obama-era rules disallowed. Pais European counterpart Andrus Ansip, on the panel, singled that out as a problem.

 "Internet providers must treat all traffic equally," Ansip says. "I do not want a digital motorway for the lucky few while others use a digital dirt track. Access to the Internet is a basic right. It has to stay open for everybody."

Pai, appointed by President Trump to head the agency, largely stuck to familiar terrain during his remarks, a stance built around what he considers "light touch" regulation.

"Nobody gets a free pass. The United States is simply making a shift from preemptive regulation which foolishly presumes that every last wireless company is an anti-competitive monopolist to targeted enforcement based on actual market failure or anti-competitive conduct," he said.

He argued Americas "Internet economy became the envy of the world" because of a market-based approach that began in the mid-1990s, and ended in 2015 when the net neutrality rules were imposed, when small companies like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google became worldwide players.

As for the NRA award, FCC spokesman Will Wiquist said via email that, "The CPAC award was a complete surprise, and the chairman was honored."

Write a Comment:
* Name  
E-mail  
Title  
* Comment
* Enter the word on the picture