On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission said it will not be extending net neutrality rules, a move that is expected to help companies like Comcast and Verizon, which charge content companies for preferential access to their networks.
The decision is likely to fuel an industry-wide backlash from net neutrality supporters who argue that the rules prohibit ISPs from favoring their own content, which they argue is a vital service for the internet.
“Today’s decision puts the brakes on the FCC’s open Internet plan, which would give Internet service providers unprecedented power to prioritize Internet traffic and charge consumers to access the web, without any public oversight,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
“Net neutrality protects consumers from harmful discrimination and ensures that broadband providers can’t block or slow down the flow of information or content.”
Net neutrality rules prohibit Internet service companies from making money from the content that users access, but have never applied to cable companies, which pay content companies to provide access to content over their networks for free.
Lieu said the FCC should have considered a more limited approach to net neutrality, but instead “went with the worst-case scenario and allowed the industry to reap billions of dollars in profits by charging content companies billions of extra dollars for preferential treatment.”
“The FCC should instead have applied the rules to Internet providers like Comcast, which have no business treating Internet customers differently than they treat other consumers,” he added.
Liu said the vote was not a “surgical strike” and would have little effect on the industry.
The FCC is expected in coming days to vote on whether to keep the rules in place.