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EBay Warns Net Neutrality Reversal Will Hurt Small Businesses

19 May 2017

In 2015, the FCC under President Barack Obama supported the Open Internet Order, which reclassified broadband Internet as a telecommunications service instead of an information service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act - meaning the FCC had the power to regulate the Internet.

The Federal Communications Commission has voted to move forward with Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to weaken net neutrality protections by ending "utility-style regulation" of the Internet.

With net neutrality supporters, including senator Edward Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts), protesting outside the agency's building, the Republican-controlled FCC voted 2-1 on party lines to start a formal, months-long process of dismantling the existing rules.

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For the next 90 days, the FCC will collect comments from stakeholders and the general public before drafting a specific order and voting on whether to set it into law.

Mignon Clyburn, the FCC's solo Democratic member, criticiised the decision, arguing that the decision to revisit the rules marked the Republicans' latest effort to undercut their own mission. He delivered a scathing rebuke of the plans, calling it "a hollow theory of trickle-down internet economics" that "contains ideological interpretive whiplash".

eBay said Internet Service Providers could steer traffic to preferred websites if the federal government reverses its policies around net neutrality.

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Under the contested FCC rules to "protect the open Internet", cable companies are not allowed to charge websites more for faster loading times and no content can be blocked. During the 2015 effort to the write the net neutrality rules, more than 4 million comments poured into the agency, majority in support of strict regulations. It also raises worrying questions for anyone with a digital business serving USA customers, as the new rules could adversely affect the provision of their services.

Pai and his Republican colleague, Commissioner Mike O'Rielly, said the new review of net neutrality will include a cost-benefit analysis, which they say wasn't done in 2015. "ISP investments accelerated following the vote. More new U.S. "over-the-top" video services launched in the two years following the vote than in the seven years prior".

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EBay Warns Net Neutrality Reversal Will Hurt Small Businesses