Decision, which critics warn will hand control of the web to big cable companies, a major victory for FCC chair and Trump appointee Ajit Pai
The USs top media regulator voted to end rules protecting an open internet on Thursday, a move critics warn will hand control of the future of the web to cable and telecoms companies.
At a packed meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, the watchdogs commissioners voted three to two to dismantle the net neutrality rules that prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from charging websites more for delivering certain services or blocking others should they, for example, compete with services the cable company also offers.
Outside, protesters angrily called on Congress to block the FCCs efforts. Bouquets of flowers and white candles were placed on the grass outside the building, an apparent reference to the death of open internet. Posters of the angry-face emoji covered the walkway.
And activists carried hand-made signs that read: Dont make the internet a private toll road; Ajit Pai doesnt want you to meet your fianc online; and Dont undermine our democracy thats Russias job.
The meeting was briefly interrupted by a security threat.
FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, denounced the move. I dissent because I am among the millions outraged, outraged because the FCC pulls its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the nations broadband consumers, she said.
Fellow Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC had shown contempt for public opinion during the review. She called the process corrupt. As a result of todays misguided actions, our broadband providers will get extraordinary new powers, she said.
But FCC chair Ajit Pai and his two fellow Republicans voted for the repeal. Pai said the current rules had impeded innovation and addressed non-existent concerns. We are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for much of its existence. He called claims that the move would kill the internet outlandish.
Net neutralitys advocates argue that an open internet has been essential to the creation of todays web, and has allowed companies like Skype to compete with telecoms providers and Netflix to change the media landscape. They say the removal of the rules will affect consumers worldwide.