WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Federal Communications Commission has voted on party lines to undo sweeping Obama-era net neutrality rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet.
The agency’s Democratic commissioners dissented in the 3-2 vote Thursday.
The FCC’s new rules could usher in big changes in how Americans use the internet. The agency got rid of rules that barred companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from playing favorites with internet apps and sites.
The broadband industry promises that the internet experience isn’t going to change. But protests have erupted online and in the streets as everyday Americans worry that cable and phone companies will be able to control what they see and do online.
“The administration supports the FCC’s efforts,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders following the vote. “At the same time, the White House certainly has and always will support a free and fair internet.”
On Twitter, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the FCC’s ruling “dangerous” and said the internet “must remain free and open to all.”
“New York will take all necessary steps to protect #NetNeutrality,” he said.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman plans to sue the FCC over the decision, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
In a video put out by his office, the attorney general blasts the agency for ignoring millions of fake comments on its servers, many using stolen identities.
“It’s a travesty for anyone who cares about the integrity of their voice in goverment,” he said. “So we are going to fight back.”
Sources told WCBS 880 the lawsuit will focus less on that and more on the potential harm the repeal will do to New Yorkers.
“I’ll be working aggressively to stop the FCC’s leadership from doing any further damage to the internet and our economy,” said Schneiderman.
He said it will be a multi-state lawsuit, but did not elaborate on what the legal strategy will look like.
The FCC meeting Thursday was abruptly halted shortly before 1 p.m. during chairman Ajit Pai’s remarks and before the vote could take place.
Pai said “on the advice of security, we need to take a brief break.” The room was evacuated by police and attendees were told to leave their belongings, CBS News reported. Security officers and dogs were then seen searching the room.
After searching, security officials then allowed everyone back in and the meeting resumed.
The previous rules were approved on a party-line vote by the FCC in 2015. A federal appeals court upheld the rules in 2016 after broadband providers sued.
Net-neutrality advocates have said undoing the rules makes it harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests and will harm innovation. Opponents are now gearing up for a long legal battle.
A few bills have already been introduced seeking to prohibit internet service providers from violating net neutrality principles such as blocking content or impairing traffic. The legislative session begins Jan. 8.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)