With net neutrality supporters, including senator Edward Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts), protesting outside the agency's building, the Republican-controlled FCC voted 2-1 on party lines to start a formal, months-long process of dismantling the existing rules. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said he expected the FCC to have 2-3 million comments in the net neutrality (Restoring Internet Freedom) docket by week's end. The FCC saying in 2015 that the providers could not be left to simply make up their own rules.
The Federal Communications Commission has voted to move forward with Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to weaken net neutrality protections by ending "utility-style regulation" of the Internet.
eBay said Internet Service Providers could steer traffic to preferred websites if the federal government reverses its policies around net neutrality. Without net neutrality, they argue, internet providers could slow access to web content and make it more hard to transfer large amounts of data.
Pai says the industry should be allowed to police itself, and that regulation keeps ISPs from expanding and upgrading, which in turn curbs job growth and hurts customers.
The public is invited to comment on the proposal.
Mike Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, the lobbying affiliate of The Heritage Foundation, said in a statement that this deregulation move is welcome.
Backers of net neutrality argue that the 2015 rules, which are being challenged in court, would guard against powerful broadband firms like Comcast and AT&T shutting out rival services and the creating online "fast" and "slow" lanes. The public and business customers could see an increase in the cost of services. The 2015 decision regulated internet providers more heavily, using some of the same rules the agency applied to phone companies.