FCC repeals net neutrality rules after delay caused by bomb threat

The FCC has voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules, a decision the Washington Post describes as a “sweeping act of deregulation.”

Federal regulators voted Thursday to allow Internet providers to speed up service for some apps and websites — and block or slow down others — in a decision repealing landmark, Obama-era regulations for broadband companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

The move to deregulate the telecom and cable industry is a major setback for tech companies, consumer groups and Democrats who lobbied heavily against the decision. And it marks a significant victory for Republicans who vowed to roll back the efforts of the prior administration, despite a recent survey showing that 83 percent of Americans — including 3 out of 4 Republicans — opposed the plan.

Led by Chairman Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission and its two other GOP members on Thursday followed through on a promise to repeal the government’s 2015 net neutrality rules, which sought to force Internet providers to treat all online services, large and small, equally. The agency also went a step further, rejecting much of its own authority over broadband in a bid to stymie future FCC officials who might seek to regulate providers.

Here is the actual vote which only took a few seconds:

There was some last-minute drama before the vote took place when the room was cleared suddenly over a bomb threat. “On advice of security, we need to take a brief recess,” Ajit Pai said in the midst of discussing the vote. Pai had just been handed a note apparently warning him there was a briefcase in the room ready to explode. An officer then announced, “Everyone, I need everyone to leave everything that you have in place. Do not take anything out of here except for your body.” Here’s the clip of Pai suddenly asking everyone to leave the room:

Endgaget reports that police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs could be seen entering the hearing room once everyone else had left. A few minutes later everyone returned and the hearing resumed.

This is not the first sign of extremism surrounding this vote. Last month, Pai appeared on Fox News and criticized activists who posted a couple of signs near his home with his children’s names on them. “Dad murdered Democracy in cold blood,” one signs read.