FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Regulations; Here’s What It Means

The five members of the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday 3-2 along party lines to scrap Obama-era net neutrality rules.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to repeal net neutrality protections it established in 2015, scrapping regulations that prevented internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing down content, charging consumers more to access sites and online services, and charging users or companies for so-called “fast lanes” to some sites.

The vote passed the commission in a 3-2, party-line vote, with Republicans voting for the repeal and Democrats opposing it.

The security industry has argued in favor of net neutrality in order to protect current and future video services provided over the internet. If ISPs are allowed to throttle traffic, for example, then that could potentially allow ISPs to throttle security video services.

The Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) coordinates industry interaction with Congress and the FCC on this issue.

In a dramatic moment prior to the vote, the meeting room was briefly evacuated over a security threat, which has not been officially explained, according to news reports. Live-streams from inside the empty rooms showed security guards with what appeared to be bomb-sniffing dogs.

Democrats, consumer groups and tech companies have for months rallied to stop the repeal plan, arguing that the rules are essential for preventing companies like Comcast and Verizon from abusing their powers as internet gatekeepers.

Several groups have already said they plan to file lawsuits against the decision on the grounds that the FCC didn’t seriously consider the millions of pro-net neutrality comments submitted to the commission. There will also be a push to get Congress to bring back net neutrality regulations through legislation.

The order brought out passionate comments from Republicans and Democrats on the commission.

“As a result of today’s misguided action, our broadband providers will get extraordinary new power from this agency,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat on the commission who voted against the repeal, via The Hill.

The Republican members of the commission said the repeal would bring back the less-regulated internet that flourished under for most of its existence and would allow ISPs to invest more in broadband technologies.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the repeal will require ISPs to be transparent in how they treat web traffic, arguing those companies will be subject to tougher disclosure requirements than any faced by internet giants. Pai has argued that companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are greater threats to an open internet than broadband providers, according to The Hill article.

Michael Beckerman, CEO of the Internet Association trade group, which represents the tech giants and others, said the repeal vote represents a departure from more than a decade of broad, bipartisan consensus on the rules governing the internet, The Hill reports.

“Relying on [internet service providers] to live up to their own ‘promises’ is not net neutrality and is bad for consumers,” he said.

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