(Reuters) — The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines on Thursday to repeal landmark 2015 rules aimed at ensuring a free and open internet, setting up a court fight over a move that could recast the digital landscape.
The approval of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal marked a victory for internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc and hands them power over what content consumers can access.
Democrats, Hollywood and companies like Google parent Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc had urged Pai, a Republican appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, to keep the Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content.
The meeting, held amid protests online and in front of the FCC headquarters in Washington, was evacuated before the vote for about 10 minutes due to an unspecified security threat, and resumed after law enforcement with sniffer dogs checked the room.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters the administration “supports the FCC’s efforts. At the same time, the White House certainly has and always will support a free and fair internet.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, said in a statement he will lead a multi-state lawsuit to challenge the reversal.
Shares of Alphabet, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp moved lower after the vote.
Pai has argued that the 2015 rules were heavy handed and stifled competition and innovation among service providers.
“The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a digital dystopia,” he…