Bye forever, net neutrality

The president-elect’s new FCC appointees aren’t fans of net neutrality or low-income subsidies.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler listens to commissioners speak prior to a vote on net neutrality at the agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. The FCC issued “net neutrality’’ rules designed to bar Internet service providers from offering preferential treatment to sites that pay for faster service in 2015. CREDIT: AP Photo
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler listens to commissioners speak prior to a vote on net neutrality at the agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. The FCC issued “net neutrality’’ rules designed to bar Internet service providers from offering preferential treatment to sites that pay for faster service in 2015. CREDIT: AP Photo

President-elect Donald Trump has selected two anti-net neutrality advisers to shape the future administration’s telecom policy strategy at the Federal Communications Commission, Recode reported.

The current commissioners on the FCC lean Democratic, 3–2, and have been the primary reason behind tougher regulations and guidelines such as net neutrality for broadcast companies. Now, the new administration will likely undo those policies.

Trump has previously favored deregulation and criticized the FCC’s net neutrality rules, calling them a “Fairness Doctrine” and an “attack on the internet” that will “target conservative media.”

To help advance his agenda, Trump has brought on Jeff Eisenach, who worked on campaign telecom policy for the Reagan administration, and Mark Jamison, a former Sprint lobbyist.

Eisenach was part of former President Ronald Reagan’s Federal Trade Commission and FCC transition teams. The resulting FCC agency repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which required media to portray contrasting perspectives in news coverage of public issues. Jamison, who also teaches at the University of Florida, has staunchly opposed the FCC’s policies to improve internet access and options in low-income and rural areas.

The appointments come after net neutrality cleared a major legal challenge from telecom companies earlier this year. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled to uphold the FCC’s authority to impose the net neutrality regulations, which ban internet providers from blocking or slowing access speeds.

At the time, current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called the ruling “a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth.”

Following that decision, Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai, who has been outspoken about his position against the net neutrality rules, said, “I hope that the parties challenging them will continue the legal fight.”

And with a Trump administration, he may just get his wish.