Appeals court hears net neutrality arguments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai led the effort to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules for ISPs. (FCC)

Net neutrality is once again under the microscope with a federal appeals court hearing arguments Friday on whether the Trump administration was justified in repealing the Obama-era net neutrality rules back in 2017.

Separate from that court hearing, a U.S. House panel announced on Thursday that it's holding a hearing on Feb. 7 on the Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules, according to Reuters.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed by the Trump administration, spearheaded the effort in December 2017 to repeal the net neutrality rules, which the FCC commissioners approved by a 3-2 vote. Those votes were along party lines. The FCC commissioners that voted in favor of removing net neutrality characterized the rules as heavy handed while also leading to fewer investments.

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RELATED: FCC Chairman Pai applauds Congress for not bringing back net neutrality rules

In early January, before adjourning for new members and an ensuing Democrat majority, the GOP-led U.S. House of Representatives voted against reinstating the net neutrality rules that were put in place in 2015 under the auspices of then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The Congressional Review Act resolution, which would have nullified the new FCC rules that got rid of net neutrality, passed the Senate in May with support from three Republicans.

The net neutrality rules were put in place to prevent large ISPs, such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, from throttling or blocking traffic or offering paid "fast lanes" to give preference to Internet traffic.

Consumer groups and large companies, such as Facebook and Amazon, have opposed the overturn of net neutrality.

Several states, including California, have been developing their own rules for large ISPs. Attorney generals in 22 states and several tech firms have filed a suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.