FCC Chair Defends Weakening Net Neutrality Despite Senate Vote

FCC Chair Defends Weakening Net Neutrality Despite Senate Vote

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai defended his decision to kill Obama-era net neutrality rules a day after the Senate voted to nullify the rules change, according to Bloomberg.

“The best approach is the light-touch approach,” Pai said as he faced criticism from Democratic members of the Senate appropriations committee considering the FCC’s budget. They included Senator Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, who said Pai showed contempt for the public by not heeding public opinion that favors stronger net neutrality rules. “You ignored the overwhelming public support, I mean, I’ve never seen such overwhelming public support, for net neutrality,” Leahy said.

Pai said the measure passed by the FCC last year to revoke net neutrality rules would bring more broadband construction. Providers need to report details of handling web traffic to the FCC, and the agency will enforce that requirement aggressively, stated Pai. “We want a free and open internet,” he said.

On Wednesday Senate Democrats won a vote to preserve the Obama-era net neutrality regulations that Pai gutted. The vote was 52 to 47 with three Republicans joining all the Democrats and independents in favor of a resolution to eliminate Pai’s rule change.

The win could be short-lived though it may appeal to young voters and boost the party in mid-term elections. The measure needs to win a vote in the House where Republicans have a larger majority, and to get a signature from President Donald Trump, who supports the FCC’s action.

In eliminating Obama-era rules forbidding internet service providers from blocking or slowing web traffic, the FCC put in their place requirements that companies disclose how they handle data flows. Enforcement is left to another agency. The change is to take effect June 11.

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