Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Ajit Pai is delaying the net neutrality repeal he claimed was so urgent

Published Apr 26th, 2018 3:32PM EDT
Net neutrality repeal: not in effect yet
Image: Jacquelyn Martin/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Last fall, Ajit Pai strong-armed net neutrality repeal through the Federal Communications Commission, not stopping to listen to the tens of millions of people who submitted comments, or to hold one single public forum on the issue. His justification was that net neutrality laws have curtailed broadband investment and are handcuffing the good folks at Comcast and AT&T, who have been handcuffed for years from exploiting customers investing in infrastructure.

But when it comes to actually rolling back the net neutrality laws, Pai appears to be taking his sweet time. Sections of the 2017 Net Neutrality Repeal Order have been published in the Federal Register, putting them into action, but the key parts to do with net neutrality have specifically been exempted for now.

According to the FCC, the delay is necessary because the Office of Management and Budget need to sign off on the replacement for the existing net neutrality laws, the FCC’s so-called “transparency” requirement for ISPs. Once the OMB has signed off on the new regulations, the FCC will publish a second document in the Federal Register putting the new regulations into action, and formally putting net neutrality repeal into effect.

According to Harold Feld, a Senior Vice President at advocacy group Public Knowledge, this is highly unusual:

There is absolutely no reason for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to have stretched out this process so ridiculously long. It is especially puzzling in light Pai’s insistence that he had to rush through repeal of net neutrality over the objections of just about everyone but the ISPs and their cheerleaders because every day — nay every minute! — ISPs suffer under the horrible, crushing burden of Title II is another day in which Princess Comcast Celestia, Princess Twilight Verizon Sparkle, and all the other Broadband Equestria Girls must endure the agonies of a blasted regulatory Hellscape rather than provide us all with wonderful new innovative services at even lower cost than they do now. Because Broadband Is Magic.

Feld points out that the FCC didn’t even submit its new rule to the OMB until March 27th, long after it voted on the new regulations. The delay is either bureaucratic incompetence, or a stalling tactic to put more pressure on Congress to pass a new (and very industry-friendly!) net neutrality law.