Decision begins repeal of Obama-era regulations on how telecommunications companies can control Internet
The agency voted 2-1 along party lines to begin the process of replacing the Open Internet order passed in 2015.
The order was approved during former President Barack Obama’s tenure and were aimed at bringing companies like Comcast and Verizon under strict FCC control.
Before the rules, Internet users worried companies would begin providing faster access to websites that paid a fee. The regulations called for companies to treat all web traffic neutrally.
Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed earlier this year by President Donald Trump, said in a statement the previous order was a “bureaucratic straitjacket” on companies.
"Today, we propose to repeal utility-style regulation of the Internet,” Pai said. “We propose to return to the [Bill] Clinton-era light-touch framework that has proven to be successful. And we propose to put technologists and engineers, rather than lawyers and accountants, at the center of the online world. The evidence so far strongly suggests that this is the right way to go.”
Protesters and Democratic politicians swarmed the area surrounding the FCC headquarters Thursday to voice anger about Pai’s crusade against net neutrality.
While Verizon and Comcast have provided measured support for the overturn of the 2015 order, many technology companies, like Mozilla, have strongly pushed back against Pai.
Democrat Mignon Clyburn was the lone dissenting vote on the FCC decision. In her dissent, she said Pai’s order, called “Restoring Internet Freedom”, should be more accurately named “Destroying Internet Freedom.”
The proposal “contains a hollow theory of trickle-down Internet economics, suggesting that if we just remove enough regulations from your broadband provider, they will automatically improve your service, pass along discounts from those speculative savings, deploy more infrastructure with haste, and treat edge providers fairly,” Clyburn wrote in her opinion.
“It contains ideological interpretive whiplash, boldly proposing to gut the very same consumer and competition protections that have been twice-upheld by the courts.”