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FCC’s new chairman introduces plan to scale back net neutrality transparency rules

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Testifies To House Committee On The FCC's Net Neutrality Rule Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In an early move as head of the agency, the new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, circulated a plan to close the door on some net neutrality transparency requirements.

When the FCC passed its net neutrality rules in 2015, they included transparency measures for internet service providers. Big providers were required to submit information to regulators and consumers on data caps, fees, and speeds, but the order also included a temporary waiver for providers with less than 100,000 subscribers. After a re-extension, the transparency requirements would have gone into effect this month.

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Pai, who was just appointed to the new job this week, introduced a proposal that would not only extend that waiver for a full five years, but expand it. If passed by the rest of the agency’s commissioners, any service provider with fewer than 250,000 subscribers will not be bound by the transparency requirements.

The plan mirrors a similar, bipartisan proposal in Congress, and Pai, in a statement, argued that the regulations would have an unreasonable impact on small business. “Federal regulations have a disproportionate effect on small businesses — businesses that are often the linchpin of a more competitive marketplace and that don’t necessarily have compliance resources,” he said. Still, it will likely be disappointing to any customers buying service from one of those providers and hoping to keep track of what they’e paying for.

Pai has made no secret of his hostility to the net neutrality rules, saying recently that the rules’ “days are numbered.”