Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's effort to roll back the Obama administration's net neutrality is officially on the books. The FCC filed its rule-making proposal on Thursday, under the name Restoring Internet Freedom, and opened the matter for public comment.
Pai aims to unwind former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's decision to reclassify broadband service as a utility rather than an information service, which has much lighter rules. In a speech Wednesday, Pai argued that the regulatory shift was a government over-reach, and was not necessary for preserving an open Internet in which broadband providers do not run afoul of Wheeler's "bright line" rules that prohibit blocking, throttling or setting up Internet "fast lanes."
"I believe that there is a fundamental tension between two of the goals that were apparent in [Pai's] speech," said Steptoe & Johnson lawyer Pantelis Michalopoulos, who represented intervenors, including Netflix (NFLX) , Dish (DISH) , in prior litigation over the FCC's net neutrality rules before a federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C.
"One is the goals is retaining the bright line rules and the other is the goal of re-reclassifying ISPs," Michalopoulos said.
While the FCC is seeking comment on whether it should continue the bright line rules, Michalopoulos interpreted Pai's speech to mean that the FCC chairman favors the provisions.