Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sweeping Changes Expected At FCC

Republicans are eager to turn the page at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after eight years of policies under President Obama that they say have stifled innovation and burdened the tech sector, reports The Hill.

President Trump’s appointment of Ajit Pai as FCC chairman has raised hopes that many of the rules and regulations enacted under Obama — including the controversial net neutrality rules — will soon be on the chopping block.

Pai fought against the enactment of former Chairman Tom Wheeler’s signature Open Internet Order, which codified net neutrality, the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally.

Republicans like Pai denounced the FCC order for reclassifying internet service providers as utilities. The move subjected internet providers to heavier regulation, with the FCC effectively taking over regulatory jurisdiction on issues like privacy from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who tried to roll back the net neutrality order through legislation, said Republicans are deliberating how to tackle net neutrality now that the party is in charge of both the executive and legislative branches.

“I think getting some certainty on the net neutrality issue is something that industry would like for us to do,” Blackburn said in an interview with The Hill. “Everyone would like to see some certainty there, and everyone would like to see the FCC back in their correct lanes. FTC should have jurisdiction for privacy.”

Rolling back the rules could involve more than just an FCC action, especially since any regulatory moves could be undone by the next administration.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) — chairmen of the Senate and House Commerce committees, respectively — have both said that they are open to a legislative compromise with Democrats that would preserve the underlying principles of net neutrality while getting rid of the reclassification provisions.

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