FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules, a milestone for Republican deregulation push

Federal regulators voted on Thursday to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules for internet traffic — a major victory for telecommunications companies and another milestone for the Republican deregulation push under President Trump.

The 3-2 party-line vote by the Federal Communications Commission tears down the controversial utility-like oversight of internet service providers that was put in place by Democrats in 2015 to try to ensure the uninhibited flow of data online.

Watch live: FCC votes on net neutrality »

That strict regulatory structure will largely give way to market forces. Internet service providers now will be required only to disclose their online practices, with the Federal Trade Commission policing them for anti-competitive practices.

Republicans said they are simply restoring government oversight of the internet to where it was before 2015, reestablishing the light-touch regulatory approach that allowed the online ecosystem to flourish and develop into an economic force.

“The internet is the greatest free-market innovation in history,” Ajit Pai, the Republican who took over as FCC chairman in January and pushed the repeal, said before the vote.

“”Entrepreneurs and innovators guided the internet far better than the heavy hand of government ever could have,” Pai said.

Underscoring the intensity surrounding net neutrality, Pai’s comments were interrupted when FCC security officers ordered the packed meeting room cleared. The meeting was suspended for about 10 minutes while the room was swept after an apparent bomb threat.

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