FCC announces 'net neutrality' rules will expire in June

PHOTO: Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), speaks during an open meeting in Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, 2017. PlayZach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WATCH What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality rules in the U.S. will officially expire on June 11, the Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday.

The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines -- three Republicans to two Democrats -- to reverse the rules, which govern how internet service providers treat content and data.

Supporters of the reversal argue the rules, imposed in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama, unnecessarily regulate the industry and impede the free market.

"I strongly support a free and open internet," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement Thursday.

"Now, on June 11, these unnecessary and harmful internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light touch approach that served the online world well for nearly 20 years will be restored," Pai added.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) treat all content equally and not give preference to some digital content providers. For example, an ISP may not charge more for sites that stream movies or promote a specific agenda. This is also referred to as the open internet.

Under the new regulations, internet service providers will now have to disclose whether they engage in certain types of conduct, such as blocking and prioritization.

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called the decision "profoundly disappointing."

"The FCC is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people," Rosenworcel said in a statement released Thursday.

She continued, "I raised my voice to fight for internet freedom. I’ll keep raising ruckus to support net neutrality and I hope others will, too."

Senate Democrats are also making a last-ditch effort to salvage the rules that they say maintain an "open internet."

A cadre led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), filed a petition Wednesday to force a vote under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a rule allowing Congress to overturn recent rules from government agencies.

The Senate could vote as early as next week. If the resolution is passed by Congress, it would then need to be signed by President Trump.

Markey expressed the urgency of his resolution following the announcement, writing on Twitter: “The Senate must act NOW and pass my resolution to save the internet as we know it.”

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