FCC Votes Down Obama-Era ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

  • FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, file photo, demonstrators rally in support of net neutrality outside a Verizon store in New York. The Federal Communications Commission is voting Thursday, Dec. 14 to undo Obama-era “net neutrality” rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet. The industry promises that the internet experience isn’t going to change, but the issue has struck a nerve. Protests have erupted online and in the streets as everyday Americans worry that companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will be able to control what they see and do online. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) Mary Altaffer

  • FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, file photo, Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Ajit Pai speaks during an FCC meeting in Washington. The FCC is voting Thursday, Dec. 14 to undo Obama-era “net neutrality” rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet. The industry promises that the internet experience isn’t going to change, but the issue has struck a nerve. Protests have erupted online and in the streets as everyday Americans worry that companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will be able to control what they see and do online. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Susan Walsh

Published: 12/14/2017 1:40:29 PM
Modified: 12/14/2017 1:42:53 PM

The Federal Communications Commission has voted on party lines to undo sweeping Obama-era “net neutrality” rules that guaranteed equal access to internet.

The agency’s Democratic commissioners dissented in the 3-2 vote this afternoon.

The FCC’s new rules could usher in big changes in how Americans use the internet. The agency got rid of rules that barred companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from playing favorites with internet apps and sites.

The broadband industry promises that the internet experience isn’t going to change. But protests have erupted online and in the streets as everyday Americans worry that cable and phone companies will be able to control what they see and do online.

Net-neutrality supporters plan legal challenges. Some Democrats hope to ride that wave of public opinion into the 2018 elections.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who ushered in the vote, called the internet the “greatest free-market innovation in history.” He added that it “certainly wasn’t heavy-handed government regulation” that’s been responsible for the internet’s “phenomenal” development. “Quite the contrary,” he said.

“What is the FCC doing today?” he asked. “Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence.”

Broadband providers, Pai says, will have stronger incentives to build networks, especially in underserved areas. Ending 2015 net neutrality rules, he says, will lead to a “free, more open internet.”

“The sky is not falling, consumers will remain protected and the internet will continue to thrive,” Pai said.

The FCC meeting was abruptly halted shortly before 1 p.m. during chairman Pai’s remarks and before the vote could take place. Pai said “on the advice of security, we need to take a brief break.”

Then the meetings’ live feed cut out. Representatives for the FCC could not immediately be reached for comment via email and phone.

Security officials evacuated the hearing room and searched it, then allowed everyone back in for the vote.




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