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Protesters rally outside the FCC headquarters before the vote. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

The FCC voted Thursday along party lines to remove net neutrality rules that prohibited internet providers from giving preferential treatment to some web content — or blocking it entirely.

Why it matters: The repeal empowers internet providers like Comcast or AT&T to charge web services like Netflix or Facebook extra fees if they want to see their content delivered faster. They also have more leeway to favor content their subsidiaries produce, or to charge customers more to access certain websites.

The details:

  • The FCC voted to remove the three “bright line” rules: no blocking, no slowing down content, and no offering websites to deliver their content faster to customers if they pay for the privilege.
  • Internet providers will have to disclose their practices to customers and be subject to regulatory oversight from the Federal Trade Commission, which critics allege is too weak an agency for the job. The Department of Justice would also continue to be free to bring an antitrust case against providers.

The debate over FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's repeal plan has been deeply contentious. On Thursday morning, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins became the most prominant Republican lawmaker to call for the vote to be cancelled. Democratic comissioners have alleged the public input process was corrupted by fraudulent comments. And protesters convened outside of the FCC's building ahead of the vote.

What's next?: The rollback will likely be challenged in court. And some in Congress are pushing hard for a legislative fix to settle the issue once and for all or a bill to outright strip the repeal from the books.

Go deeper: What the internet landscape could look like now that the rules have been repealed.

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.