Rushing to Gut Net Neutrality May Leave Internet Providers With No Federal Oversight


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is interviewed by Stuart Varney of Fox Business Network at FOX Studios on November 10, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: John Lamparski / Getty Images)

New York City’s chief technology officer and a coalition of internet rights and consumer protection groups are asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay a vote on a proposal to repeal its net neutrality rules until a federal appeals court rules on whether the Federal Trade Commission has the authority to protect the internet instead.

The groups fear that the proposed repeal, coupled with the upcoming court ruling, could leave internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast without federal oversight and put consumers at their mercy. Internet service providers, or ISPs, consistently rank at the bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

The vote is currently scheduled for December 14, when the FCC’s Republican majority is expected to approve Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to gut the agency’s 2015 net neutrality protections and return federal oversight of ISPs back to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In a letter sent to Pai on Monday, the groups argue that the FCC must wait to make sure that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals doesn’t strip the FTC of that authority first.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is following the Trump administration’s pattern of getting the dirty jobs done as quickly as possible.

The Ninth Circuit is considering a case that dates back to 2010, when AT&T stopped offering “unlimited” mobile data plans to iPhone customers for a set monthly rate. Wary of losing customers to other providers, AT&T allowed those who signed up before the change to keep their “unlimited” plans, but began quietly throttling their service by slowing the internet connection on their smartphones to a crawl after they reached a certain data threshold.

The Federal Trade Commission cried foul and filed a consumer protection action against AT&T in 2014, arguing the company did not adequately…

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