The FCC’s proposal to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections has passed three votes to two this Thursday morning during an open meeting.
As was widely expected, the three Republican members — Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr — voted in favor of the proposal while Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, both Democrats, voted against it.
Under the new order, broadband internet will no longer be classified as a Title II service and the added regulations that go along with that classification will be removed. Internet service providers will be free to practice blocking, throttling and paid prioritization as long as they disclose those practices as per a new transparency requirement.
According to The Hill, the meeting was “abruptly evacuated” in the middle of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai‘s remarks just before the vote. “Reporters and attendees were forced to exit the hearing room and leave their belongings as police brought in K9 units to sweep the room. Attendees were allowed to re-enter the room within 15 minutes of the evacuation.” The FCC declined to comment on the reasons for the evacuation.
Politicians and tech advocates have been passionately trying to stop the planned repeal, arguing that the protections put in place by former President Obama in 2015 are essential to preventing ISPs from abusing their power.
“As a result of today’s misguided action, our broadband providers will get extraordinary new power from this agency,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who voted against the repeal.
“They will have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content,” she added. “They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for- play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road.”
The new rules will require ISPs to disclose publicly whether they engage in those practices. According to Pai, the FCC will have the authority to sue providers that deceive their consumers or abuse competition.
Net neutrality advocates are still planning to challenge the move in court. According to The Hill, Democrats are planning to introduce legislation that will block the move from going into effect.
Featured image via screen grab (YouTube)