The Trump Administration had already committed to deregulating the broadband market, and the FCC had already begun working on a plan to do it, but the administration’s intentions on the matter were thrown into doubt two days ago, when Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he did not know what the president’s position on net neutrality was.
To be fair to Spicer, the president has been prone to reversing his views.
Yesterday, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the president will press ahead with reversing some of the regulations put in place by previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler during the Obama administration.
Sanders said, “The administration believes that rules of the road are important for everyone—website providers, internet service providers and consumers alike.
“With that said, the previous administration went about this the wrong way by imposing rules on ISPs through the FCC's Title II rulemaking power. We support the FCC chair's efforts to review and consider rolling back these rules, and believe that the best way to get fair rules for everyone is for Congress to take action and create regulatory and economic certainty.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai can move forward with his plan to reclassify broadband yet again with the administration’s blessing.
Pai’s reclassification plan has been widely opposed by consumer advocates but embraced by the industry, which was incensed over Wheeler’s reclassification.
Wheeler’s maneuver legally barred ISPs from anti-competitive practices that most ISPs weren’t engaging in anyway. The industry’s objections were based almost entirely on a philosophical rejection of regulations.
Nonetheless, there were instances of ISPs engaging in some of those practices, violating some of the principles of network neutrality. Support for Wheeler’s measure was rooted in consumer distrust of ISPs, and the fear they might consider changing their tactics and adopt some of those anti-competitive practices absent regulations explicitly prohibiting those practices.
Wheeler’s maneuver, reclassifying broadband as a Title II service, in effect meant that the FCC would have the authority to determine if and when ISPs adopted some of those practices. Pai’s re-reclassification would remove that authority, making it harder for consumers to seek relief should ISPs violate network neutrality principals.