FCC Overturns 2015 “Net Neutrality” Rules

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The FCC, voting along party lines, has voted to overturn Federal Communications Commission rules approved in 2015 under former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that regulated Internet activity. Specifically, the FCC’s three Republicans – – Chairman Ajit Pai, and Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr – – voted in favor of a Declaratory Ruling, Order, and Report and Order that reverses a short-lived, Title II, utility-styled treatment of Internet service providers.  Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel voted against overturning the existing rules; they view any dismantling as a threat to an open Internet and consumers’ access to content.  Opponents of “net neutrality” policies, including the Republican Commissioners, believe that removal of “heavy-handed” regulations will spur carrier investments, innovation and consumer choice.  The most pivotal item passed by the FCC is the Declaratory Ruling, which restores the classification of broadband Internet access service as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act – – the classification originally affirmed by the Supreme Court in its landmark 2005 Brand X case — and reinstates the classification of mobile broadband Internet service as a private mobile service.

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