Advertisement

FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

Compiled from Associated Press reports
December 14, 2017 01:40 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Communications Commission has voted on party lines to undo the sweeping Obama-era 'net neutrality' rules that guaranteed equal access to internet.

Advertisement – Content Continues Below

The agency's Democratic commissioners dissented in the 3-2 vote Thursday.

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 election.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican who says his plan to repeal net neutrality will eliminate unnecessary regulation, 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 says.

"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 says.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat who was appointed by President Barack Obama, lambasted the "preordained outcome" of the vote that she says hurts people, small and large businesses, and marginalized populations. She outlined her dissent from prepared remarks before the vote.

The end of net neutrality, she says, hands over the keys to the internet to a "handful of multi-billion dollar corporations."

With their vote, the FCC's majority commissioners, says Clyburn, are abandoning the pledge they took to make a rapid, efficient communications service available to all people in the U.S., without discrimination.

This item, she says, "insidiously ensures the FCC will never be able to fully grasp the harm it may have unleashed on the internet ecosystem."

The vote came after a brief pause to the meeting shortly before 1 p.m. Pai said "on the advice of security, we need to take a brief break." The reasoning for the break was not immediately announced.

About 60 protesters braved frigid temperatures and biting winds Thursday morning to protest the FCC's expected decision.

Joining the rally was Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, a Silicon Valley congressman who says "this is an issue for the middle class" who will "get nickeled and dimed for extra email use" or downloading videos.

AT&T and other big internet service providers are applauding the FCC decision.

AT&T Senior Executive Vice President Bob Quinn said in a blog post Thursday that "the internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has." Quinn says the company won't block websites and it won't throttle or degrade online traffic based on content.

The providers have argued that the overhaul will allow them to invest more money in broadband infrastructure over time, though it's not clear how their claims will be measured.


Credits

Compiled from Associated Press reports

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Relay Media Amp

Northland Fans Relive Seeing Minneapolis Miracle in Person

Hundreds March and Rally in Support of Dr. King's Legacy

Soo Locks Close for Winter Season

Suspect Arrested After Domestic Disturbance, Shots Fired Call

Northlanders Celebrate Vikings Win

Stunner: Keenum-Diggs TD on Last Play; Vikes win 29-24

Advertisement