Trumpís FCC votes to repeal net neutrality
December 15, 2017 11:10 am
The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to approve a controversial plan to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections. The repeal passed 3-2, along a party-line vote.
The vote came amid mounting protests from the tech industry, consumer advocacy groups and even some Republican members of Congress who’d urged the FCC to delay or cancel the vote.
In what may be a sign emotions running high on the issue, the net neutrality vote was briefly interrupted due to a security threat. FCC commissioners and the audience were forced to evacuate the room.
“Sorry for the interruption,” Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, said after returning to the room. “We were acting on the advice of the federal protection service. Where was I?”
The net neutrality rules, approved by the FCC in 2015, were intended to keep the internet open and fair. Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon were explicitly prohibited from speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps.
Under the approved proposal, the FCC would do away with rules barring internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to online content. The FCC would also eliminate a rule barring providers from prioritizing their own content.
Pai, appointed to run the FCC by President Trump, has been a longtime critic of the net neutrality rules. Last month, he pitched his repeal proposal as a way stop the federal government from “micromanaging the internet.”
“It is not going to destroy the internet. It is not going to end the internet as we know it. It is not going to kill democracy. It is not going to stifle free expression online,” Pai said in his remarks Thursday.
Pai’s plan has been praised by the telecom industry, which argues the earlier regulation was a drag on broadband investment and innovation. In a blog post this week, Comcast downplayed concerns, saying customers “will continue to enjoy all of the benefits of an open Internet today, tomorrow, and in the future. Period.”
But net neutrality advocates have sounded alarms that the repeal could give internet providers too much control over how online content is delivered. It may also make it harder for the next generation of online services to compete, if they have to pay up to be placed in a so-called internet fast lane.