Internet firms winding up for a fight on 'net neutrality'

Internet firms winding up for a fight on 'net neutrality'

The focus of his speech will be his strategy regarding the landmark net neutrality rules which were approved during the term of former President Barrack Obama in 2015. Under rules enacted during the Obama administration, the likes of Comcast and Verizon - which offer their own video services they'd very much like subscribers to use - can't slow down Netflix, can't block YouTube, and can't charge Spotify extra to stream faster than Pandora. For many Republicans and broadband groups, undoing the common-carrier classification is the key reason for reversing the net neutrality rules.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai could formally launch an effort this week to revamp the net neutrality rules passed by his predecessor Tom Wheeler.

Many internet companies are already running the Washington playbook - lobbying Congress to keep the rules, schmoozing government regulators, and signing letters of protest.

Last week, Pai met executives from top tech companies including Facebook, Apple and Intel.

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Changing the net neutrality that is as per his liking is the latest regulatory rollback for Pai who is in office only since January. Those promises would then be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, similar to how the FTC now enforces privacy promises made by other companies. The chairman in recent weeks has weighed whether the best system would see internet providers commit in writing to protect net neutrality. Roku, the streaming-video gadget maker, hired lobbyists to set up D.C. meetings for the first time. Things could get noisier if and when the FCC begins to formally review a rollback.

Pai, named chairman by Republican President Donald Trump in January, said previous year the FCC should have repealed the ban on ownership of a broadcast station and newspaper in the same market, citing the closing of 400 US newspapers, or about a quarter of daily titles, since 1975 as advertising revenue has sharply declined.

One possible outcome is that Pai could propose voluntary net neutrality rules.

The tech industry is pretty good at getting consumers on its side when it decides to fight for a cause. Many Internet companies and online rights groups say the rules are critical for protecting innovation and free expression.

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