FCC votes to repeal landmark 2015 net neutrality rules

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Ajit Pai
Chairman Ajit Pai speaks ahead of the vote on the repeal of so-called net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2017. (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to repeal the net neutrality rules which seek to ensure free and open internet. The cancellation of the rules comes just two years since the commission put them in place under the administration of former President Barrack Obama.

The measure to repeal the rules, which was proposed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, was decided in a 3-2 vote. This marks a victory for internet service providers, as the removal of the rules will hand them the power to control the online content that users can access.

The vote is also a victory for Pai, who has been working to undo existing telecommunications regulations since he was appointed by President Donald Trump to the position in January.

With the repeal of the landmark 2015 rules, internet service providers are left with free rein over how consumers gain access to online content. Under the new rules, they are free to block, throttle, and prioritize some content over others, as long as they publicly state that they’re doing so.

This may lead to companies prioritizing their own content over others, or even blocking users from being able to access content on competing apps or services. The change in rules may also see internet service providers charging more to deliver services from media platforms like Netflix or Youtube, which in turn could pass the increased cost to its consumers.

Backers of the FCC decision believe that public ire is enough to keep the service providers in check, and it is unlikely that they will engage in blocking, throttling, or content discrimination, simply because they want to avoid the public relations nightmare.

However, Democrats believe that the decision is deeply unpopular, and many are willing to take the fight to Congress, with a number of lawmakers already planning to introduce a resolution that will undo the action of the FCC.

According to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, the current administration “supports the FCC’s efforts. At the same time, the White House certainly has and always will support a free and fair internet.”