America’s net neutrality rules are set to end in April after the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal them late last year, according to an order filed Thursday with the Federal Register.
The repeal is set to take effect April 23, according to the order.
The Republican-led FCC voted in December to repeal net neutrality rules, which aimed to stop broadband companies from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.
The broadband industry promised that the internet experience wouldn’t change, but critics argued that the Obama-era rules were needed to prevent broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from having the power to censor content on the internet.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who put forth the planned repeal and voted in its favor, dismissed the concerns last year.
“The sky is not falling,” he said. “Consumers will remain protected and the internet will continue to thrive. … Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence.”
Still, Thursday’s filing was expected to open the door to challengers of the decision, The Hill reported.
“Now that the new rules have officially been published, net neutrality supporters are able to mount a legal challenge against them,” according to the news site. “Democratic attorneys general, public interest groups and internet companies have all promised to file lawsuits to preserve the 2015 protections.”
The attorneys general of 20 states and tech companies filed suits last month to halt the repeal, according to CNN.
Denelle Dixon, chief business and legal officer at Mozilla, wrote in a post on the tech company's blog that Mozilla refiled a challenge to the repeal "immediately after the order was published."
"We won't waste a minute in our fight to protect net neutrality because it's our mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all," she wrote. "An internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent."
Votes fell along party lines in December, with the FCC board’s Republicans favoring the repeal and the two Democrats on the board voting against it.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against the repeal, said in a statement released Thursday that the FCC has “failed the American public.”
“It turned a blind eye to all kinds of corruption in our public record – from Russian intervention to fake comments to stolen identities in our files,” she said.
Before December’s vote, the attorneys general of nearly 20 states asked the FCC to delay its decision based on evidence that impersonators posted hundreds of thousands of fake comments on the commissions’ notice of the proposed rule change. Despite the appeal, the vote went on as scheduled.
“As a result of the mess the agency created, broadband providers will now have the power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content,” Rosenworcel said. “This is not right. The FCC is on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the law and it deserves to have its handiwork revisited, reexamined and ultimately reversed.”
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