Net neutrality has come under increasing threat from corporate interests and the vote appears highly likely to succeed this time around.
The regulation survived a court challenge from broadband providers past year. The proposal, which will be up for public view tomorrow, is largely expected to pass with the vote splitting along party lines.
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"This proposal undoes almost two decades of bipartisan agreement on baseline net neutrality principles that protect Americans' ability to access the entire internet", it said. Earlier in Summer, FCC received over 21 million comments that urgent the agency to preserve the current net neutrality rules (the commission is likely to call a lot of them "fake" as it had made unsubstantiated hacking claims).
Pai distributed his alternative plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday in preparation for a December 14 vote. The practice, known as zero-rating, was criticized by the previous FCC as a potential violation of net neutrality principles, but Pai rescinded his predecessor's findings upon taking office.
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The landmark 2015 net neutrality rules considered internet as a utility that is essential to the public similar to phones and electricity, a move that Pai has called "heavy handed". But regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies were concerned about what broadband companies could do with their power as the pathway to the internet blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example. "Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that's best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate".
Internet companies such as Google have strongly backed net neutrality, but many tech firms have been more muted in their activism this year. More than 22 million comments have been filed with the FCC about whether net neutrality should be rolled back.
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Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat representing OR, called the proposal "the crowning achievement of the most anti-consumer FCC chair in history". Supporters of net neutrality have also said that without regulation, a greater socio-economic digital divide could develop, creating a class of information "haves" and "have nots". The FCC and Chairman Ajit Pai have also said that the more stringent regulatory policies put in place in 2015 were attacking problems that didn't exist. Those who criticize the rules say undoing them is good for investment in broadband networks. "We believe", Verizon said in a statement to ABC, "that users should be able to access the internet when, where, and how they choose, and our customers will continue to do so".