The FCC is starting to roll back net neutrality

Ajit Pai will seek to undo net neutrality rules
(Image credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will begin his push to unwind the net neutrality rules adopted by the FCC in 2015, when Democrats held a majority of commission seats. Pai, a Republican who voted against the Open Internet rules proposed by former Chairman Tom Wheeler, has made no secret of his intention to scale back regulations since President Trump tapped him as chairman. At a speech to the conservative group FreedomWorks on Wednesday, Pai is expected to talk about his ideas regarding net neutrality — the principle that internet providers must treat all web traffic equally — but not outline any specific proposals.

Under Wheeler, the FCC reclassified internet providers as common carriers, like phone companies, allowing the commission to enforce the 2015 net neutrality rules. A federal appellate court upheld the rules in 2016. Pai will almost certainly propose scrapping the common carrier framework, and according to sources who spoke to Recode, he is leaning toward making compliance with net neutrality principles voluntary and handing over regulation of broadband to the Federal Trade Commission.

Pai has been meeting in recent weeks with the telecom industry, which fought the net neutrality rules, and tech companies, which support them. He told reporters last week that he has consistently supported "a free and open internet," but disagreed about the approach to reaching those goals.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.