Police briefly evacuated the public and commissioners from an FCC hearing on net neutrality on Thursday, shortly before a contentious vote to repeal open internet rules was due to occur.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was giving his closing remarks, abruptly stopped speaking and announced that there would be a “brief recess on advice for security.”
Police units with canine units were soon brought into the meeting room after it was evacuated. While the official web broadcast of the hearing switched to an image of the FCC logo, a Washington Post web camera in the romm continued to broadcast video of the scene.
After roughly 10 minutes the public was allowed back in to the hearing.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service provided the following statement to Business Insider:
“At approximately 12:35 p.m. today, a call was received by the FCC stating that two explosive devices were in the building and set to detonate in 30 minutes. The unknown caller stated that there was a device in the hearing room, and the other was at another location. The FCC was notified and the decision was made to have everyone leave the hearing room out of an utmost of caution. FPS Explosive Detection Canine Teams swept the facility and gave the ‘all clear,’ and the hearing room and overflow room were able to be repopulated.”
The effort to repeal net neutrality has been highly controversial, with critics charging that it will leave consumers and web startups at the mercy of the big telecommunications companies. The 2015 rule on net neutrality classified high speed internet service under Title II of the Communications Act, the same classification given to utlities such as telephone lines.