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Trump hates net neutrality

Here’s what a Trump presidency could mean for the future of internet regulation.

GOP Presidential Nominee Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally At Collier County Fairgrounds In Naples, Florida Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A Donald Trump presidency will shake up key regulatory agencies in Washington, which could lead to a reversal of hard-won decisions on issues like net neutrality and completely upend the relationships the tech industry has worked to foster with regulators.

Trump will appoint new leaders to agencies like the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that brought us net neutrality last year.

Yet Trump has also promised a “temporary moratorium on new agency regulations” and to “eliminate our most intrusive regulations.”

On the issue of net neutrality, Trump hasn’t said much, but he appears to have sided with the ISPs — the companies selling broadband service — over internet companies like Netflix or Amazon.

He tweeted two years ago that net neutrality was just another way to attack conservative media.

That means Trump could unwind parts of current net neutrality rules, potentially making it easier for ISPs to charge companies like Netflix for faster service to end users.

A possible successor to run the FCC is Jeffrey Eisenach, who Trump brought on last month to help craft his technology policy. Eisenach is known as an anti-regulatory zealot, who has been criticized for advocating against net neutrality as a think-tank scholar while receiving funds from Verizon to underwrite his work.

Although, to be fair, before his position at the FCC, the Obama-appointed Tom Wheeler was the CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, which is an industry lobbying group.

Here’s what Trump’s victory could mean for the future of telecom policy at the FCC:

  • Under Trump, the FCC could open a new rulemaking that would reverse its 2015 decision to reclassify the internet as a utility. This would undermine the FCC’s net neutrality rules that prohibit internet providers from speeding up or slowing down access to certain websites and other discriminatory practices.
  • A reversal of the net neutrality order would also undermine the new privacy rules the FCC just passed that require internet providers to gain consent from subscribers before using their data to sell ads.
  • Trump hasn’t made comments about the 5G transition, which is supposed to usher in the next wave of internet-connected devices, including self-driving cars and drones, which will require a robust wireless infrastructure for reliable operation.
  • In September, the then-candidate took to Twitter to call on the FCC to fine a journalist who used indecent language to criticize Trump on Fox News, despite the fact that the FCC only polices indecent language on broadcast TV and radio, not cable.

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