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FCC to vote on restoring net neutrality rules rescinded by Trump

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote later this month on restoring net neutrality rules that were rescinded under former President Trump, the agency’s chair said Wednesday.

If approved, the proposal would restore the Obama-era rules that barred broadband providers from blocking or throttling internet traffic to some websites and speeding up access to others that pay extra.

“The pandemic proved once and for all that broadband is essential,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

“After the prior administration abdicated authority over broadband services, the FCC has been handcuffed from acting to fully secure broadband networks, protect consumer data, and ensure the internet remains fast, open, and fair,” she continued.

“A return to the FCC’s overwhelmingly popular and court-approved standard of net neutrality will allow the agency to serve once again as a strong consumer advocate of an open internet,” Rosenworcel added.

The proposal would also provide the FCC with greater oversight of broadband companies, allowing the agency to address outages, security concerns and consumer harms, she said.

The FCC will vote on restoring the net neutrality rules at its April 25 meeting. The agency voted 3-2 along partisan lines in October to move forward with the process, after securing a Democratic majority following a two-year holdup over a previous nominee.

The net neutrality rules, which were first approved by the FCC under former President Obama in 2015, were repealed during the Trump administration in 2018.

As the FCC prepares to vote on the proposal later this month, industry groups have already come out strongly against the move. USTelecom, a trade association representing broadband providers, argued that restoring net neutrality rules is counter to President Biden’s Internet for All push.

“So here we go again. It’s been two years since the White House asked Congress and the country to be all in on Internet for All,” USTelecom president and CEO Jonathan Spalter said in a statement.

“But just as this goal is now within reach, the FCC is pumping the brakes with this entirely counterproductive, unnecessary, and anti-consumer regulatory distraction. America deserves better,” Spalter added.

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