President Donald Trump congratulated Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai in a tweet Monday. That repeal eliminated rules preventing broadband providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites or charging companies extra to deliver content faster.
Trump called the appeals court ruling a big win for the future of the internet, including 5G wireless, the next generation in mobile technology. The FCC is one of several federal agencies that has moved quickly to deregulate since Trump took control of the White House after the 2016 election. The Republican-led FCCadopted under President Barack Obama, arguing that the rules had stifled investment because they imposed utility-style regulation on the internet.
Supporters of the Obama-era rules have said the FCC's deregulation has left a void in which broadband providers can abuse their power as gatekeepers of the internet by squelching online competitors, limiting the sites and services consumers can access and overcharging.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the commission, pointed out that the decision wasn't a total victory for the FCC. "The court told the FCC it couldn't stop states from making their own #NetNeutrality rules," she wrote in a tweet.
Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld Pai's 2017 order to repeal the net neutrality rules, finding the agency had not overstepped its authority. It was an important win for Republicans at the agency. Consumer groups, tech companies and local government officials had sued to restore rules passed in the previous administration.
But the decision wasn't a total victory for the agency: The court also found that the FCC had overstepped its authority when it banned states from enacting their own open internet rules, as Rosenworcel pointed out. Now, the fight to restore net neutrality rules will likely. The court also remanded part of the order back to the FCC, stating the agency hadn't considered the effect the repeal would have on public safety and programs such as Lifeline, which offers subsidies for phone and internet service for the poor.