In a move blasted by open internet advocates, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated an order affirming the agency's 2017 decision to revoke the Obama-era net neutrality rules.
Pai's decision comes one year after a federal appellate court largely upheld the FCC's decision to roll back the net neutrality rules, but directed the agency to consider the impact of the repeal on three issues -- whether it affects public safety, the Lifeline program (which subsidizes broadband) and regulations regarding utility poles.
“Having reviewed the input received, the law, and the facts, I am confident that the regulatory framework we set forth ... appropriately and adequately addresses each issue,” Pai said Monday in a blog post.
The Obama-era rules prohibited broadband providers from blocking or throttling online traffic and charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery. The FCC approved those rules in 2015, but voted to repeal them two years later, after a change in administration.
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who supported the Obama-era rules, criticized Pai's decision.
“Instead of taking this opportunity to right what this agency got wrong, we are going to double down on our mistake,” she stated. “The FCC is going to make it easier for broadband companies to block websites, slow speeds, and dictate what we can do and where we can go online.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), who has introduced legislation to restore the former rules, added that the FCC “is continuing to take us down a path towards a less free and open internet.”
“At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has made us more dependent than ever on broadband and wildfires are devastating the West, we need the FCC to step up, not double down on its past failures to promote the public interest,” he stated. “This fight will not end until we reverse the Trump FCC’s wrongheaded decision and put net neutrality back on the books.”