The FCC voted 3-2 to roll back numerous existing net neutrality rules, including those prohibiting internet service providers from blocking or throttling of content, or from selling so-called "fast lanes" for speedier access to consumers.
Current FCC chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by President Trump in January 2017, had voted against those rules, calling them heavy-handed, and shepherded through regulations that overturned them. We can not let internet providers block or slow down internet traffic and force us to pay more for popular sites. He said he supports a "free and open internet" but disagreed with Democrats on the "regulatory framework to enforce these rules".
The 2015 rules were meant to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to Web content and bar broadband service providers from favouring their own material or others'.
Senator John Thune, who chairs the Commerce Committee, said "the fact of the matter is nothing is going to change" after the new rules take effect - and will not prod people to vote. Senator Ed Markey of MA argued that "net neutrality is the free speech issue of our time", according toArs Technica.
After the vote, Murkowski described herself as "frustrated" by the politics of the net neutrality debate that she says hurts her large and rural state, which has unique internet needs. Three Republicans joined with Democrats - Sen.
The rules bar internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic by picking and choosing which types of data get sent quickly, and which types are either throttled or blocked.
Democrats were undeterred. They see their effort as something that will energize young voters who value unfettered access to the internet. It also said last week that consumers demand strong and enforceable net neutrality rules on Internet providers.
The FCC decided in 2015 to reclassify internet service providers as common carriers under a 1996 law.
A House companion to the Senate measure, by Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., has 161 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
Equally as predictably, Commissioner JESSICA ROSENWORCEL took the opposite position from PAI, with a statement reading "Today the UNITED STATES Senate took a big step to fix the serious mess the FCC made when it rolled back net neutrality late a year ago".