The US government turned its attention to dismantling Federal Communications Commission (FCC) net neutrality rules, following a recent reversal of internet privacy regulation.
A spokesperson for the White House told The New York Times net neutrality regulations were an “overreach” it is now pledged to reverse.
The fate of US net neutrality rules, introduced under former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in 2015, have been the subject of intense speculation since the unveiling of vocal opponent Ajit Pai as Wheeler’s successor in January.
Net neutrality – filed in US law under the Open Internet Order – prohibits ISPs from offering a better quality of service to certain online content to the detriment of others.
Following the introduction of the rules, Wheeler’s FCC opened an investigation into operators’ deals zero-rating some content. Although the law is yet to be formally repealed, within weeks of coming to office Pai closed the FCC investigation without any action.
In March, Republican Pai defended his stance against net neutrality to the Senate. Democrats claim his policy to repeal privacy and net neutrality rules would harm consumers.
The White House comments on the future of net neutrality regulation follows last week’s steps to perform the first major reversal of internet regulation from the new administration.
Congress voted to overturn FCC internet privacy rules set to be applied later in 2017. Had the regulation gone ahead, service providers would have been restricted on how they can gather and use customer data.
Pai argued the proposed FCC internet privacy rules, drawn up under Wheeler, were unfair as they applied to providers under the FCC’s watch – including telecoms companies – but not internet-centred companies including Facebook and Google.
Rolling-back proposed rules on privacy means operators would be free to sell subscriber data to third parties. However, within hours of the regulation being scrapped, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon released statements confirming they would not sell customers’ individual browsing data.