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White House Says Title II Was Mistake

The Trump Administration says it supports FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to review the net neutrality rules and agrees it was wrong to reclassify ISPs under Title II.

That came in a statement from principal deputy White House press secretary Sarah Sanders to open her (audio only) press conference.

It also came a day after press secretary Sean Spicer had punted on a question about the White House's position—although President Donald Trump is on the record as no fan of the FCC's net neutrality rules.

Related: ACA: Title II Classification Must Go

"Yesterday Sean was asked about the administration's position on the concept of net neutrality," said Sanders at the daily press briefing, "and he said we'd get back to you. The administration believes that rules of the road are important for everyone—website providers, internet service providers, and consumers alike.

"With that said, the previous administration went about this the wrong way by imposing rules on ISPs through the FCC's Title II rulemaking power. We support the FCC chair's efforts to review and consider rolling back these rules, and believe that the best way to get fair rules for everyone is for Congress to take action and create regulatory and economic certainty."

Title II fan Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) saw that as strongly backing the FCC plan of "dismantling" the 2015 Open Internet order, but not all net neutrality fans saw it the same way.

Related: NCTA: No Need for FCC's Internet Rules

"President Trump and his Republican allies are waging an all-out assault on every front they can on our core democratic values," said Markey following Sanders' statement. "Whether it's health care, immigration, climate change, or net neutrality, they want to end the vital protections that safeguard our families and to hand over power to corporations and special interests. But through the actions of Congress, the courts, and everyday consumers, the Trump administration’s agenda of reckless deregulation will only suffer setback and defeat. Entrepreneurs, grassroots advocates, online companies and millions of Americans are committed to protecting net neutrality, and they will continue to make their voices heard.”

"These comments are far from full throated support," said Fight for the Future campaign director Even Greer, "and underline the reality that the White House knows that repealing net neutrality protections is incredibly unpopular with Trump's base," she said, noting that Sanders only said the FCC was right in reviewing the rules.

Trump's predecessor helped push the FCC to use Title II, with President Barack Obama posting an online video calling on the commission to reclassify—at the time, the proposal was not to go to Title II, but instead allow commercially reasonable blocking or discrimination, a way to address a court's determination that an absolute ban on conduct required Title II.