The Trump administration said on Thursday that its next move to roll back the regulation of broadband internet service companies would be to jettison the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which were intended to safeguard free expression online.
The net neutrality rules, approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015, were intended to ensure that no online content is blocked and that the internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else.
Supporters of net neutrality have insisted the rules are necessary to ensure equal access to content on the internet.
In a news conference, Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, mentioned the net neutrality rules and said President Trump had “pledged to reverse this overreach.” The Obama administration rules, Mr. Spicer said, were an example of “bureaucrats in Washington” placing restrictions on one kind of company — internet service suppliers — and “picking winners and losers.”
Telecommunications and cable television companies, the broadband services providers, fought being classified as common carriers. They said the classification opened the door to bureaucratic interference with business decisions that would ultimately reduce incentives to invest and therefore raise prices and hurt consumers.
Mr. Spicer made his comments after Congress voted this week to complete its overturning of Obama-era internet privacy protections and to allow broadband companies to track and sell their customers’ online information with greater ease. The vote was seen as a prelude to further deregulation for broadband companies.
Mr. Trump earlier this year appointed Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon and a minority Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission, as chairman of the agency. Mr. Paihas has since indicated that he plans to roll back many consumer protection regulations created during the Obama administration, including net neutrality.