As consumers feared, the FCC today voted along party lines 3-2 to dump net neutrality
and allow broadband providers to block or slow upload of websites and charge for certain content and high-quality delivery.
The controversial move, backed by thousands of favorable comments that were determined to have been from hacked emails, overturned the protections of an open internet enacted during the Obama administration, regulations that treated broadband internet providers as utilities. Today's vote nullifies that.
The New York Times quotes the chairman of the commission, Ajit Pai
, who previously was legal counsel to Verizon, as saying the deregulation would help consumers and promote competition. The Times also quotes Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn
's accusation that Republican commissioners were defying the wishes of Americans in favor of AT&T, Comcast and
“I dissent, because I am among the millions outraged,” said Ms. Clyburn. “Outraged, because the F.C.C. pulls its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the nation’s broadband consumers.”
Net neutrality supporters fear that telecom companies could favor their business partners — such as Fox News — thus adding a political tilt to what's available on the internet. The CEO of Reddit, an internet message forum, Steve Huffman
warned The Times, “If we don’t have net neutrality protections that enforce tenets of fairness online, you give internet service providers the ability to choose winners and losers. This is not hyperbole.”
The Times has this primer
on what might happen with the disbanding of net neutrality, or what some are calling a "pay to play" internet.
Today's vote followed a brief evacuation of the FCC meeting room by security guards. No explanation for the evacuation, which was brief, was giving.