Week ahead: FCC taking first vote on net neutrality rollback

Week ahead: FCC taking first vote on net neutrality rollback
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The Federal Communications Commission will take its first vote in the coming week on Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to undo the net neutrality rules put in place in 2015.

At the FCC's open meeting on Thursday, the commission will vote to move forward with the plan to repeal the regulations that reclassified broadband service providers as telecommunications services, and opened them up to tougher regulation from the FCC.

By reclassifying the industry, the FCC also gained the legal footing to impose rules on internet service providers prohibiting them from blocking, throttling or prioritizing web content.

If the commission moves ahead with the plan on Thursday, the proposal will be opened up to public input.


This week has already seen a flood of comments from people on both sides of the debate. As of Friday afternoon, the proposal had received more than 1.2 million comments.

Because of the agency's "sunshine" period, comments filed during the week leading up to the May 18 meeting will not be counted as part of the record.

Last Sunday, John Oliver, host of the HBO show "Last Week Tonight," devoted much of his program to defending net neutrality and lampooning Pai and internet service providers pushing to get rid of the rules.

He also urged viewers to comment on Pai's proposal through a URL, gofccyourself.com, that leads to the FCC's comment filing system.

That system slowed to a crawl shortly after Oliver's segment, much like it did when the late night comedian first addressed the net neutrality debate in 2014, and many believed it was a result of the site being flooded with comments.

But the next day, FCC CIO David Bray claimed that the agency had been the victim of multiple distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks from malicious actors.

That prompted demands from Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBiden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures  These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-Ore.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) that the FCC come forward with more information on the alleged cyberattack. And the pro-net neutrality group Fight for the Future suggested that the FCC was trying to downplay support for the regulations.

The vote on Thursday, if successful, will be just the first step in a process to roll back net neutrality that could take months to unfold. And if last month's meeting is any indication, expect some protests over the agency's action.

Also in the coming week, the House Commerce Committee's technology subcommittee will hold a hearing on emergency alert systems on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

And the Senate Armed Services Committee's panel on strategic forces will hold a hearing on the military's space operations on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

On Thursday, Clemson University professor Thomas Hazlett will give a talk on wireless spectrum policy at the Heritage Foundation at noon.


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