House panel to hold net neutrality hearing

House panel to hold net neutrality hearing
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A House panel will hold a hearing next week on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of 2015 net neutrality rules, top Democrats announced Thursday.

The Feb. 7 hearing will be the first for the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s panel on technology under its new Democratic leadership.

"An open internet has been vital to the growth of the internet, especially for consumers, entrepreneurs and free speech,” Reps. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneLawmakers discussing potential compromise to revive drug pricing measure House Democrats announce bill to rein in tech algorithms House Democrats ramp up probe of FDA approval of Alzheimer's drug MORE (D-N.J.) and Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleHouse passes bipartisan bills to strengthen network security, cyber literacy Texas Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announces retirement at end of term Midterm gloom grows for Democrats MORE (D-Pa.), the respective chairs of the committee and subcommittee, said in a joint statement.

“The FCC's repeal of these essential protections-known as net neutrality-has been a disaster for consumers,” the Democrats said. "This hearing will be an important opportunity to hear what the repeal of net neutrality means for the American people, and what has happened since the FCC's repeal went into effect."

The committee has not announced the witnesses for the hearing yet. 

“Since the FCC adopted the Restoring Internet Freedom Order in 2017, fixed broadband speeds have increased on average by over 35%, fiber was deployed to more new U.S. homes in 2018 than any year in history, and American consumers have been enjoying a free and open Internet," a spokesperson for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "That’s a record of success.”

The FCC voted to repeal the rules requiring internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally in December 2017, prompting backlash from Congress, consumer groups and state officials across the country.

A lawsuit seeking a reversal of the agency’s order will be heard before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday. The Trump administration is battling states that have tried to replace the federal rules with laws of their own.

Next Thursday’s hearing will focus on the effects the repeal has had since it was enacted in June of last year, the Democrats said.

“House Democrats are committed to a free and open internet, and we want to make sure ISPs are not manipulating your experience on the internet,” Doyle said in a video statement posted Thursday.

Updated at 1:45 p.m.