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Politics

FCC's Ajit Pai says Congress was right not to restore net neutrality

"The FCC's light-touch approach is working," Pai says, after a congressional effort to restore Obama-era rules falls short.

FCC Holds Vote On Repeal Of Net Neutrality Rules

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday started the new year by expressing his pleasure that an effort in Congress to restore net neutrality regulations failed to garner the needed votes.

Democrats had been trying to restore net neutrality -- Obama-era rules designed to ensure that all traffic on the internet was treated equally -- using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). A resolution passed the Senate, but Democrats in the House failed to gather enough votes by the end of the year to use the legislative loophole to undo the FCC's rollback of the popular rules.

But the fight over net neutrality isn't over. Attorneys general from 22 states, along with several activist groups and tech companies, have filed suit, accusing the FCC of arbitrarily rolling back the rules and overstepping its authority to ban states from passing their own protections. The heated legal battle is headed to the Federal Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and could eventually end up at the Supreme Court.

Here's Pai's statement in full:

"I'm pleased that a strong bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives declined to reinstate heavy-handed Internet regulation. They did the right thing -- especially considering the positive results for American consumers since the adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. Over the past year, the Internet has remained free and open. Broadband speeds are up, with download speeds in the United States increasing more than 35 percent in 2018, according to a recent report from Ookla. Internet access is also expanding, and the digital divide is closing. For example, a recent report by the Fiber Broadband Association found that fiber was made available to more new homes in 2018 than in any previous year. In short, the FCC's light-touch approach is working. In 2019, we'll continue to pursue our forward-looking agenda to bring digital opportunity to all Americans."

Supporters of net neutrality say the internet as we know it may not exist much longer without the protections. Major tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, and internet luminaries, such as web creator Tim Berners-Lee, fall into that camp. Since the repeal, they've been working in Congress and in state legislatures to reinstate the rules.