FCC to vote on net neutrality repeal

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Communications Commission is expected to repeal so-called net neutrality rules Thursday that govern the way internet service providers treat different types of content and data.

The five-member panel includes three Republicans expected to vote along party lines to roll back the rules, imposed in 2015 under President Barack Obama.

Repeal supporters claim the rules unnecessarily regulate the industry and impede the free market.

Under the current rules, internet service providers are prohibited from influencing loading speeds for specific websites or apps. Thursday’s expected repeal vote would rescind policies that treat the internet like a utility and potentially lead to the creation of different lanes of speeds for the websites or content creators that pay for it. Critics worry that those costs could be passed along to consumers.

Repeal would be a hallmark victory for the FCC’s Republican chairman Ajit Pai whose 11-month tenure has seen him strongly advocate for reduced regulation.

Eighteen state attorneys general made a last ditch effort to delay the vote by claiming they have uncovered more than a million public comments on the motion using fraudulent identities.

“The FCC must delay its vote until we get to the bottom of this massive fraud,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Pai has ignored requests for a delay.

An additional bipartisan request to halt the vote came from Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Angus King, I-Maine, this week, who argued that Congress and the FCC should hold public hearings “in order to investigate the best way to ensure citizens, and our economy have strong net neutrality protections that guarantee consumer choice, free markets, and continued growth.”

More than a hundred House Republicans sent a letter to the FCC on Wednesday applauding the agency’s plan to repeal its net neutrality rules.

While some internet service providers, including Comcast, have promised never to throttle speeds or block websites, the debate over the matter has been ugly at times, with Pai claiming that his family has been harassed over his stance.
 
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