FCC chairman explains why he won’t cave to public pressure over net neutrality

Published: Nov. 29, 2017 at 8:52 PM MST
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The Gray Television Washington News Bureau was granted access inside the Federal Communications Commission, where Chairman Ajit Pai is the gatekeeper of the rules that regulate the Internet.

“The Internet shouldn’t be governed like a water company, or an electric company, or a slow-moving subway system. It should be free to innovate. And that’s what we are going to do moving forward,“ said Pai.

Pai wants to reverse regulations implemented in 2015, known as 'net neutrality.' He says the rules are preventing Internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T from investing in new technology.

If Pai gets his way, and net neutrality is dismantled, those Internet companies could have more power. They could manipulate how fast a website loads or content -- like movies -- is delivered. They could even block access.

But Pai says that isn’t an issue.

“Think about what it was like before 2015. We were not living in some hellscape in which consumers were not able to access the Internet where content was blocked,” said Pai.

Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro asked Pai if he has ever second-guessed the decision, since there is so much public support for net neutrality.

“I haven’t, because I know that based on the facts and the record that we have compiled, and the laws we have studied, that we are doing the right thing by restoring Internet freedom,” said Pai.

So, is dismantling net neutrality the right thing to do? Michael Beckerman doesn’t think so. He’s president of the Internet Association, representing high profile companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix.

“Without net neutrality rules, whoever your local broadband provider is has complete control over your Internet experience. And I think that’s something people should be worried about,” said Beckerman.

Government data shows more than half of Americans have access to only one Internet service provider. Beckerman is concerned that pulling back regulations could hurt consumers, small businesses, and startups.

“If you’re a kid in your dorm room, or someone working out of your garage, and you want to have a chance to compete and the chance to create a great website or Internet app, you can do that because of these net neutrality rules. And without the rules, it becomes impossible,” said Beckerman.

The FCC commissioners plan to vote on the issue on December 14. They’re expected to reverse net neutrality.