The Federal Communications Commission announced its plans to block some Obama administration rules that subject broadband providers to stricter scrutiny than websites. The rules were set to go into effect on March 2nd. This decision is a victory for internet providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.
The rules, approved by the FCC in October, were intended to protect consumers’ personal information online. They have been controversial because they establish stricter requirements for broadband and wireless companies than they do for other internet companies, such as Google or Facebook, which also collect user information personal information.
According to the FCC spokesman, Chairman Pai believes that privacy rules should mirror those implemented by the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees privacy regulations for internet companies. The FTC’s privacy guidelines are less stringent than the ones passed by the FCC and they are implemented through investigations and enforcement, rather than pre-emptive regulations. However, the law actually oversight authority between the two agencies. The FTC cannot enforce its rules and guidelines over businesses considered common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act — which, due to “net neutrality,” now includes broadband providers.
The republican FCC is expected to take further steps to dismantle “net neutrality.” At the FCC’s open meeting last week, Ajit Pai led the vote to expand the number of companies to get exemptions to parts of the net neutrality rules.