The Federal Communication Commission voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules at a hearing on Thursday. In a three to two party line vote the agency decided to roll back net neutrality rules which guarantee equal access to the Internet.
The decision was met with protests on streets across the county and online. Proponents of net neutrality fear that providers like Comcast and Verizon could charge Internet giants like Netflix and Google more for faster connections. That may lead to higher costs to consumers at best but supporters of net neutrality fear a worse case-scenario where cable and phone companies could control what consumers are able to see and do online.
Republicans say these fears are overblown.
“The sky isn’t falling, consumers will remain protected and the internet will flourish,” said FCC commissioner Brendan Carr.
Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai pushed for the change, arguing the Obama-era rules kept Internet service providers from expanding.
“Investment in high speed networks has declined by billions of dollars,” Pai said.
Supporters like Pai believe the decision will allow broadband businesses to prioritize speeds on the Internet and the broadband industry says there are no plans to restrict the Internet.
However, it appears the battle over net neutrality isn’t over. Opponents plan to fight the FCC’s decision in court and the FCC commission’s two democrats hid none of their outrage after Thursday’s vote.
“I dissent from the corrupt process that has brought us to this point,” said FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
“The agency that is supposed to protect you is actually abandoning you,” said Mignon Clyburn, the other democrat on the FCC commission.