Trump’s FCC Chair Unveils Plan to Repeal Highly Popular Legislation

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, unveiled his controversial plan to repeal Obama-era protections intended to keep the internet open and fair.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet,” Pai said in a statement Tuesday. “Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices.”

The repeal would represent a fundamental shift to how the internet is regulated. The current net neutrality rules, approved in 2015, internet providers like Comcast (CCVCL) and AT&T (T, Tech30)are barred from deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps. The goal was to prevent those internet providers from picking winners and losers among content providers.

Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, has been a longtime critic of the net neutrality rules. Since President Trump appointed him as FCC chairman in January, Pai has made reversing the rules a key part of his deregulatory agenda.

Pai’s decision to seek a full repeal of the rules was praised by the telecommunications trade groups as a boon for broadband investment, but loudly panned by the tech industry and consumer advocacy groups.

The Internet Association, a trade group that represents Facebook, Google and Amazon, described Pai’s proposal as “the end of net neutrality as we know it.”

“This proposal undoes nearly two decades of bipartisan agreement on baseline net neutrality principles that protect Americans’ ability to access the entire internet,” Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association, said in a statement.

Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat representing Oregon, called the proposal “the crowning achievement of the most anti-consumer FCC chair in history.”