The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to reverse so-called net neutralityrules that govern how internet service providers treat content and data.
The five commissioners of the FCC voted along party lines — three Republicans to two Democrats — to roll back the rules, imposed in 2015 under President Barack Obama. The public debate over the rules has been heated at times, and Thursday’s decision came after a brief delay when, on the “advice of security,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced they needed to take a recess and the hearing room was evacuated.
Reversal supporters claimed the rules unnecessarily regulate the industry and impede the free market.
“It is not the job of the government to pick the winners and losers of the internet … We should have a level playing field,” Pai said Thursday.
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Under the regulations rescinded Thursday, internet service providers were prohibited from influencing loading speeds for specific websites or apps. The vote rolled back policies that treated the internet like a utility, and it could lead to the creation of different speed lanes for websites or content creators, with higher prices for faster speeds. Critics worry that those costs could be passed along to consumers.
Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel described the vote as one that puts the FCC “on the wrong side of the American public” and said she would not “give up” on efforts to fight the reversal.