Restoring a light touch to Internet regulations

[Commentary] Some have tried to whip Americans into a frenzy by making outlandish claims. Feeding the hysteria are silly accusations that my Restoring Interernet Freedom plan will “end the internet as we know it” or threaten American democracy itself. These claims obscure a pretty mundane truth: This plan would simply restore the successful, light-touch regulatory framework that governed the internet from 1996 to 2015. And importantly, it would get the government out of the business of micromanaging the internet. Some claim that the Obama FCC’s regulations are necessary to protect internet openness. History proves this assertion false. We had a free and open internet prior to 2015, and we will have a free and open internet once these regulations are repealed. Some in Silicon Valley have opposed the plan, arguing in favor of imposing tough regulations on internet service providers. And I can understand why large Silicon Valley companies take this position. Saddling internet service providers with tougher regulations than apply to themselves helps them cement their dominance over the internet economy. If these companies are truly committed to an open internet where Americans can freely access the content of their choice, like I am, it’s curious that they focus on unnecessary and harmful regulation of other parts of the internet ecosystem with little history of engaging in this kind of behavior. But what about transparency when it comes to dominant Silicon Valley internet platforms? Right now, consumers are largely left in the dark when it comes to how these companies determine what American consumers see in their newsfeeds or search results. For example, these platforms could be using algorithms that favor content with certain viewpoints, and their users would have no way of knowing that they were being manipulated in this way. Is this a problem that needs to be addressed, and if so, how? I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I do think these are questions worth raising. So as we think about internet policy, we should look at the entire internet economy — not single out one part of it. And our aim shouldn’t be to pick winners and losers but instead to have consistent rules of the road. These rules should promote investment and innovation, protect internet freedom, and promote the market-based vision that’s served us so well for so long.


Restoring a light touch to Internet regulations Pai: Apple Promoting Online Censorship (Broadcasting&Cable)