Tom Wheeler, the former chairman of the FCC, has taken to the airwaves to air his own response to Ajit Pai’s proposal to revise the current net neutrality rules, calling it a loss for consumers and businesses.
"Even for this FCC and its leadership, this proposal raises hypocrisy to new heights," writes Wheeler in a blog post. Wheeler is now a Brookings Visiting Fellow and was at the helm of the FCC when it passed the Open Internet Rule in 2015.
During its monthly meeting in December, the FCC will vote on a measure to overturn the Title II classification for the current net neutrality rules, a decision that also drew fire from fellow Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.
Two days before the Thanksgiving weekend, Pai circulated a Report and Order on Restoring Internet Freedom, which would reverse the agency’s 2015 decision to regulate broadband internet access service under Title II of the Communications Act.
Instead of protecting consumers, Wheeler says Pai’s move to overturn Title II classification is giving into the whims of large ISPs.
“The FCC has sold out to the wishes of the companies it is supposed to regulate over the consumers it is supposed to protect,” Wheeler wrote. “For more than a decade, previous Republican and Democratic FCCs have tried to bring fairness and balance to the delivery of the internet to consumers. Every one of those efforts has been opposed by the corporations that consumers rely on to deliver the internet. Now the Trump FCC has simply cut to the chase, there is no need for the big companies to sue—they’ll just be given everything they want.”
Wheeler also called out Pai’s plan to put rule enforcement back in the hands of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which will be charged with policing ISPs, protecting consumers, and promoting competition.
“It is impossible to find anything pro-consumer in the expert telecommunications agency walking away from its responsibilities in favor of an agency with no telecommunications expertise or authority,” Wheeler wrote. “Here is the secret why the big companies want this: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has NO rule-making regulatory authority in this area. In the name of “protecting consumers” the FCC is walking away under a smokescreen sham that the FTC can do the job.”