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FCC Erases Net Neutrality Rules, Now Permits Internet Providers to Block and Throttle Consumers

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WASHINGTON, December 14, 2017 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2, along party lines, to approve a proposal by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai repealing the “open internet” net neutrality rules classifying broadband internet service providers as common carriers.

That leaves Americans without any sort of network neutrality policy or government regulations for the first time since the administration of George W. Bush.

The long-expected vote was condemned by Democrats and consumer groups, but hailed by Republicans and groups representing large internet providers who had sought to overturn the rules.

The rules classifying broadband internet service as common carriage were put in place in 2015 by then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Broadband providers pledge to refrain from the practices they lobbied to permit

Many of those large internet providers have long pledged to refrain from the very practices – throttling, blocking, and paid prioritization, among others – that the rules prohibited. Yet they have also lobbied to overturn them.

Congressional Democrats like Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, reacted by pledging to continue the fight to defend the rules in court.

“It’s clear that the Chairman’s idea has been rejected in the court of public opinion with tens of millions of Americans weighing in," Eshoo said in a statement. "Now the issue will be judged in the courts."

Eshoo added that she and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, will be leading efforts to draft an amicus brief in support of the rules for the anticipated litigation to overturn the FCC’s decision in the same way they did to defend those same rules when they were challenged by a group of cable providers.

Markey also announced that he is introducing a resolution under the Congressional Review Act that would overturn the FCC’s decision.

“Without strong net neutrality rules, entrepreneurs, inventors, small businesses, activists and all those who rely on a free and open internet will be at the mercy of big broadband companies that can block websites, slow down traffic and charge websites fees in order to increase their profits,” Markey said. “We will fight the FCC’s decisions in the courts, and we will fight it in the halls of Congress.”

Dissent at the Federal Communications Commission

While they were powerless to stop today’s vote, Democrats on the FCC railed against him in angry statements delivered before the vote.

“I dissent from this rash decision to roll back net neutrality rules,” said Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

"I dissent from the corrupt process that has brought us to this point. And I dissent from the contempt this agency has shown our citizens in pursuing this path today.”

Andrew Feinberg rejoined BroadbandBreakfast.com as Managing Editor in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at BroadbandBreakfast.com from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. In addition to covering the White House for Russia's Sputnik News - and from which he publicly departed - he has covered tech and telecommunications policy in Congress and at federal agencies for Communications Daily, FastCompany.TV, Mashable and Washington Business Journal.

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