The Trump administration backs the Federal Communication Commission's move to repeal Obama- era net neutrality regulations, the White House said on Friday, while adding that it also supports a free and fair internet.
"The Trump administration supports the FCC's effort to roll back burdensome regulations. But as we have always done and will continue to do, we certainly support a free and fair Internet," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference.
Sanders was responding to a question on the decision of the FCC, a federal commission headed by Indian-American Ajit Pai, to roll-back the Obama administration's landmark 2015 internet policy that requires internet providers to treat all traffic equally, without blocking or slowing content.
The Republican-majority FCC voted this by 3-2.
The decision has been criticised by many lawmakers, mainly those from the opposition Democratic party. They say the move is against the interest of the consumers and favours big corporate companies.
Asserting that a free and open internet has been a driving force of American ingenuity, Congressman John Crowley said the FCC's decision to end net neutrality will not just restrict Americans' ability to innovate, it will impinge on their freedom to communicate.
"This is unacceptable," he said.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters at her news conference that the only people advantaged of this are the platforms, the top communications companies.
"All of the entrepreneurial new companies coming up, all the young people who communicate and try to build relationships that will produce jobs on the internet are at a disadvantage," she said.
Congressman John Delaney said the decision will hurt consumers, entrepreneurs and small businesses and undermine the US' global leadership on innovation.
"I am strongly opposed to the FCC's actions to end net neutrality and will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to oppose these drastic and unnecessary changes," he said.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said net neutrality prevents internet service providers from prioritising data for businesses and other organisations that they favour or that pay more.
The rules keep the internet open, free, and unrestricted, preventing ISPs from becoming gatekeepers that can control and manipulate what people access on the internet.
"Since the end of the dial-up era, the FCC has enforced network neutrality principles and helped create the internet as we know it," said the ACLU's Jay Stanley.
"Today’s misguided FCC action represents a radical departure that risks erosion of the biggest free speech platform the world has ever known," he said.
"Today’s loss means that telecommunications companies will start intruding more on how people use the internet. Internet service providers will become much more aggressive in their efforts to make money off their role as online gatekeepers," he added.