FCC hearing room evacuated ahead of net neutrality vote

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) hearing room was evacuated Thursday moments before the agency was to vote on repealing its net neutrality rules.

The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service later released a statement saying that the FCC had received a bomb threat.

“At approximately 12:35 p.m. today, a call was received by the FCC stating that two explosive devices were in the building and set to detonate in 30 minutes," spokesman Robert Sperling said in a statement. "The unknown caller stated that there was a device in the hearing room, and the other was at another location. The FCC was notified and the decision was made to have everyone leave the hearing room out of an utmost of caution. FPS Explosive Detection Canine Teams swept the facility and gave the 'all clear,' and the hearing room and overflow room were able to be repopulated.”

Reporters and attendees at the hearing were abruptly told to evacuate the hearing room and leave their belongings as police brought in K-9 units to sweep the room. 

"On advice of security, we need to take a recess," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

Attendees were allowed to re-enter the room within 15 minutes of the evacuation. 

"Sorry for the interruption, we were acting on the recommendation of federal protective services," Pai said, reconvening the hearing. He immediately resumed his remarks on the net neutrality vote.

The FCC voted along party lines on Thursday to approve Pai’s plan to scrap the Obama-era rules, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

The vote provoked a massive uproar both tech giants and internet users.

-Updated 5:36 p.m.