Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai laid out his plan Tuesday for repealing the Obama administration's net neutrality rules, and tucked inside the proposal is a measure to preempt states writing their own laws to protect consumers.
In practice, if a state attempts to impose its own net neutrality law and a company objects to the FCC, the agency could issue a ruling that could be used in a court battle, a senior agency official explained in a call with reporters Tuesday. The official spoke anonymously to discuss the change before it's released.
Even without this additional provision, the undoing of net neutrality rules is a boon for industry at the expense of consumers.
The repeal itself will be a major win for the telecommunications industry, which has bristled at what it says are heavy-handed regulations requiring internet service providers like Charter and AT&T to treat all web traffic equally.
Blocking states from protecting their constituents is simply an added bonus for internet service providers - a group that lobbied arduously for the reversal.
Comcast, AT&T and Verizon lobbied the commission ahead of the plan's release to include language saying states can’t jump in with their own net neutrality rules. At least 22 states proposed broadband privacy legislation this year in the wake of congressional action revoking the FCC's online privacy rules, heightening the telecom industry’s fear that state legislatures controlled by Democrats will do the same with net neutrality.