The chief technology officer of the Federal Communications Commission apparently has some serious doubts about his agency’s plan to repeal net neutrality, Politico reported Wednesday. The FCC is expected to vote to repeal the equal-opportunity laws Thursday.
Net neutrality rules instituted under former President Barack Obama banned internet service providers from blocking or degrading online content, as well as forbade these services from taking money to create "fast lanes" for lawful material. Fans of the guidelines say repealing them would allow ISPs to block certain content — even if it is legal — or create tiered pricing for online content, thus undermining the idea that "all internet traffic is created equal."
FCC CTO Eric Burger wrote in an internal email Wednesday to commissioners that removing these guidelines would let ISPs essentially dictate which online content get priority, while also allowing the agency to block lawful content. "Allowing such blocking is not in the public interest," Burger wrote.
Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who appointed Burger, has disputed claims that scrapping net neutrality would result in ISPs dictating web traffic, telling Marketplace on Wednesday that repeal "means better, faster, cheaper internet access." In response to Politico's story, an anonymous FCC official said that Burger's worries had been "fully addressed" in the hours since he sent his email.
The FCC's plan to repeal net neutrality is deeply unpopular. On Wednesday, 18 state attorneys general wrote a letter to Pai asking him to delay Thursday's vote to allow time to investigate complaints about the FCC's public comment process on net neutrality repeal; during the comment period, more than 2 million online comments were reportedly made using stolen or fake identities, most in favor of repeal.