A CNN breaking news headline declared the "end of the Internet as we know it" after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Thursday afternoon to repeal its landmark net neutrality rules.
"End of the internet as we know it," the lead CNN.com headline read briefly after the FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to do away with its 2015 Open Internet Order that was implemented during the Obama administration.
"Trump's FCC repeals Obama-era net neutrality regulations intended to keep the web open and fair," read the CNN sub-headline on its home page.
Critics of the decision had been warning the rollback signaled the end in the weeks leading up to the vote, a charge FCC Chairman Ajit Pai denies.
"It is not going to destroy the internet. It is not going to end the internet as we know it. It is not going to kill democracy. It is not going to stifle free expression online," Pai said at the Thursday hearing.
The CNN headline was mirrored by a statement from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Briahna Joy Gray: Last-minute push for voting legislation felt 'perfomative' Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (I-Vt.), who tweeted a video to his more than 7 million followers that "we must fight back" after the vote came down.
"This is the end of the internet as we know it. In Congress and in the courts we must fight back."
Democrats, technology companies and consumer groups have all argued that the rules under the 2015 Open Internet Order are crucial in helping to stop providers such as Cablevision, Comcast and Verizon from having too much control as internet gatekeepers.
"They will have the power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content. They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road," said Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the FCC who voted against the repeal.
Pai has been consistent in his opposition to the 2015 rules, stating the FCC went too far when imposing restrictions two years ago.
"Following today’s vote, Americans will still be able to access the websites they want to visit. They will still be able to enjoy the services they want to enjoy," Pai said. "There will still be cops on the beat guarding a free and open internet. This is the way things were prior to 2015, and this is the way they will be once again."
The 2015 rules banned internet providers from blocking or throttling certain content or creating internet “fast lanes," in an effort to treat all websites equally.