A November 2014 rally at the White House. Public input played an important role in the net neutrality debate. (credit: Stephen Melkisethian)
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai reportedly wants to get rid of the FCC’s net neutrality rules and replace them with “voluntary” commitments from ISPs.

The theory goes something like this: as long as ISPs commit to protecting net neutrality in their terms of service, the FCC can eliminate its rules while the Federal Trade Commission would punish ISPs that fail to comply with their net neutrality promises.
Under ideal circumstances, this could prevent ISPs from committing egregious violations of net neutrality principles.

But “voluntary” isn’t just a euphemism—ISPs would only be bound by net neutrality requirements as long as they promise to follow them.
Even if all ISPs put the promise into their terms of service agreements, it’s not clear what would stop them from removing the promise later.
If any new ISPs enter the market, it’s also unclear what would compel them to make the same promises.

And those aren’t the only problems that would make net neutrality enforcement more difficult under Pai’s proposal.
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