The Federal Communications Commission is implementing what it calls the Restoring Internet Freedom order. That order repeals net neutrality rules implemented by the Obama administration in 2015.
FCC Chair Ajit Pai calls the order a repeal of “unnecessary and harmful internet regulations." Opponents call it a repeal of "internet neutrality protections."
The FCC voted along party lines with the three Republicans voting for the repeal and the two Democrats voting against it.
Brendan Carr is one of the Republican FCC Commissioners who voted for the repeal. Carr spoke with Stateside about the impact this order will have on the internet consumer.
A statement from the FCC said the 2015 net neutrality regulations were holding back potential investment in more internet services. But many consumers fear they will now have to pay surcharges for the services they already get for free.
According to Carr, that's not the case. He said if an internet service provider (ISP) blocks a website or enters into an agreement to discriminate in favor of some content, those providers will still be in violation of federal trade law, which is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.
“The protection that people expect and understand when we talk about net neutrality principles are going to continue to be there,” Carr said. “In fact, we aren’t changing the law at all with respect to the legality of say, bundled internet offerings or the ability of ISP to charge more or less for something. The law is not changing in that respect with this particular repeal that we did.”
FTC commissioners have said they only have the authority to pursue individual businesses, and that they can't issue industry-wide rulings such as a ban on blocking lawful content.
But Carr argued that the FTC does have rulemaking authority. If, he said, an ISP were to engage in misconduct and the FTC stepped in, that decision would be binding against all similar ISPs.
“It won’t be a game of whack-a-mole where you have to individually find and take action,” Carr said. “Consumers are going to be protected across the board on this.”
Carr said ultimately, it is the consumers and ‘mom and pop’ internet providers who will benefit from this repeal. According to him, it was those small internet service providers struggling to figure out the Obama regulations.
"The AT&Ts and the Verizons — look they’ve got armies of regulatory lawyers that could work through that Title II statutory regime,” Carr said. “But there are thousands of smaller mom and pop providers. Those are the ones that are out there serving rural America, and they were the ones telling us they didn't have the army of regulatory lawyers to figure out this Title II regime, and all the filing and regulatory requirements.”
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry.