US FCC Chair announces proposal that could negatively affect net neutrality

Speaking at an event in Washington D.C. on 26 April, Ajit Pai, Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced a proposal seeking to limit the Commission’s oversight of Internet service providers, by overturning the classification of broadband providers as utility carriers. This classification is in place since 2015, when the FCC also adopted the net neutrality rules, and it has allowed the Commission to enforce on Internet providers the same rules as those applicable to telephone companies. Although Pai is said to have mentioned that his intention is to still keep in place the net neutrality principles, commentators argue that, without this classification, the Commission’s ability to enforce net neutrality rules would be weakened. On the same day, around 800 US startups, innovators, and investors sent a letter to Pai calling for the protection of net neutrality, noting that, without clear rules, ‘the incumbents who provide access to the Internet would be able to pick winners or losers in the market’.  The FCC is to discuss Pai’s proposal at a meeting on 18 May.