We knew this was coming—just one month after being appointed he new director of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai has fired the first shot in his attack on net neutrality. Pai’s been an outspoken opponent of the concept that all data should be treated equally, which is presumably what earned him Trump’s approval. So naturally, one of Pai’s first official acts in his new position is to counter the measures put in place by the Obama administration to protect it.
Motherboard reports that the FCC voted to eliminate open internet transparency protections on Thursday, which means that small-to-midsize internet services providers are no longer required to disclose specific information on broadband speeds, fees, and rates. Previously, companies with 100,000 subscribers or less were exempt from sharing this info, but that’s just been upped to companies with 250,000 subscribers.
The transparency protections were intended to help consumers make informed decisions when signing up with an ISP, but Pai considers it far more important to rid these broadband providers of “onerous reporting obligations.” (That, and the notion of an “informed” anything is anathema to this administration.) There are those who are speaking out against the move, of course, including Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who said it ”represents yet another in a series of steps being taken to jettison pro-consumer initiatives, and we should not stand silent as consumer protections ‘go gentle into that good night’.” Clyburn also noted that the larger broadband companies actually have holdings in these smaller companies, which means that the figures used for exemption could actually be way off.