The Trump Administration notified the public recently that they’re next move to deregulate internet broadband will be a rollback on Obama-era regulation to protect net neutrality, which prevents broadband companies from discriminating against or blocking websites that consumers try to access.
The FTC approved pro-net neutrality regulations in 2015 after they experienced significant controvery and backlash for proposing anti-net neutrality regulation in mid 2014. The regulations forced broadband companies to treat every website the same, so they can’t force companies to pay them fees to have their content delivered at reasonable speeds. It furthered the trend of regulating broadband companies much more like public utilities, since in most states broadband companies are functionally monopolies similar to public utilities.
Without net neutrality, broadband companies will be able to charge websites extra fees and rents to deliver their content or else fear their content being delivered very slowly or and their competitor’s content delivered very quickly, through a so called “fast-lane”. So, if Netflix refuses to pay Comcast $10 million in extortion fees but Hulu does, without net neutrality Comcast can legally slow down Neftlix’s content delivery and significantly speed up Hulu’s to give them an unfair advantage while deceiving the broadband companies customers.
Stephen Spicer, the White House Spokesman, mentioned in a news conference that the Trump Administration “pledged to reverse this overreach”, referring to FTC regulation protecting net neutrality. The Obama-era rules, Mr. Spicer said, were an example of “bureaucrats in Washington” placing restrictions on one kind of company — internet service suppliers — and “picking winners and losers.”
The White House pledge to overturn net neutrality is part of their greater campaign to greatly reduce consumer protections and internet privacy rights. This announcement is after Congress approved of a rollback on Obama-era regulations stopping internet providers from selling your data to third party advertisers- Trump has said he intends to approve the deregulation resolution. Trump also appointed Ajit Pai as FTC Chairman, a known advocate against the regulation of ISP’s and against many consumer protection regulations passed during the Obama-era.
It seems that most of the consumer protections and internet privacy regulations passed during the Obama-era are going to be almost entirely erased during the Trump presidency, barring a 2018 Congressional victory by Democrats. While the trend towards stripping Americans of their consumer protections is starting to pick up steam with the Trump Administration, only time will tell whether they successfully roll back the past 8 years of FTC pro-consumer regulation.