FCC Caved to White House on Net Neutrality, Senators Say

March 1, 2016, 3:23 PM UTC
Obama Outlines Policy For Open And Free Internet
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Network cables are plugged in a server room on November 10, 2014 in New York City. U.S. President Barack Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission to implement a strict policy of net neutrality and to oppose content providers in restricting bandwith to customers. (Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)
Photograph by Michael Bocchieri — Getty Images

After a year of net neutrality, the ruling that declared Internet service providers have to treat all web pages equally, Republicans in the Senate are arguing the Federal Communications Commission’s decision was unfairly influenced by pressure from President Obama.

In a report out from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Monday, the senators argue that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler caved to pressure from the White House when choosing to regulate the Internet as a public utility.

“This investigation has convinced me that the White House overrode the FCC’s decision-making apparatus,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a statement.

The report argues the FCC’s ruling was unfairly driven by a Nov. 10, 2014, public statement by Obama in support of strict net neutrality rules, The Wall Street Journal reports. The new report pushes for a more moderate regulatory approach.

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In February 2015, the net neutrality ruling was heralded as a victory for supporters of the open Internet, who say providers shouldn’t be able to favor certain websites over others when it comes to speed. But net neutrality opponents like telecom companies argue the new regulations hurt innovation. Over 4 million public comments streamed in to to the FCC before the ruling came down.

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The Senate accusations come just as a fresh legal challenge to the year-old net neutrality rule is being heard in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. A final ruling on that case is expected yet this spring, but the issue may then get pushed to the Supreme Court.

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