The FCC has just voted to repeal its net neutrality rules put into place by the Obama Administration. The vote, as expected was 3-2 along party lines. The move effectively trashed the rules that require Internet providers like Comcast or AT&T to treat all web traffic equally.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai framed the vote as a return to the bipartisan Internet regulation stance that prevailed before 2015, when the Democratic-led commission imposed net neutrality rules. “Americans will still be able to access the same Internet they have always enjoyed,” he said today.
The “transparency rules” of the Restoring Internet Freedom initiative, Pai added, “will ensure that customers know what they are buying.”
“Broadband providers will have stronger incentives to build networks, especially in unserved areas, and to upgrade networks to gigabit speeds and 5G,” Pai said of the decision. “This means there will be more competition among broadband providers. It also means more ways that startups and tech giants alike can deliver applications and content to more users. In short, it’s a freer and more open Internet.”
Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, the two Democrats on the commission, strongly disagreed. In voting against the measure today, they both firmly indicated their position by stating, “I dissent.”
Clyburn began her long, sharp-edged remarks by saying, “I dissent from this fiercely spun, legally lightweight, consumer-harming, corporate-enabling ‘Destroying Internet Freedom’ order.”
When Clyburn finished a few minutes later, Pai quipped, “I will mark that down as a ‘no,’” to laughter in the chambers.
Rosenworcel condemned the FCC for ignoring the public’s desire to protect the open Internet — a desire they’ve expressed in public protests, via email, online and phone.
“This decision puts this commission on the wrong side of history,” Rosenworcel said.
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