Jan 4, 2017

Requests to rollback privacy rules signal trouble for net neutrality

Internet providers like Comcast and AT&T have spent almost two years pushing back against strict net neutrality rules from the Federal Communications Commission.

They just caught a break.

Their lobbyists in Washington have asked the FCC to reconsider privacy rules for broadband providers that were triggered by the net neutrality order, just weeks before Republican commissioners sympathetic to their cause are slated to take over the agency.

Why it matters: This signals the start of a fight over net neutrality that will involve major players in tech and media. The elimination of these privacy regulations would also make it easier for internet providers to compete with Facebook and Google in the battle for digital ad dollars.

Our thought bubble: This won't take down the whole net neutrality house of cards. The FCC's action here would only apply to the specific privacy rules, not the broader and more-established net neutrality regulations. It will take a separate, longer effort to dismantle net neutrality protections.

What's next: The battleground expands. The FCC's incoming Republican majority is expected to move quickly to quash, or at least drastically weaken, the broader rules, and Congress may get involved as well. Consumer groups who've been vocal supporters of the need for privacy and net neutrality rules vowed to fight the carrier's campaign to dismantle them.

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