United States officially repeals net neutrality rules

FCC Ajit Pai

The Federal Communications Commission's rules preventing Internet service providers from blocking or slowing legal traffic, or charging for faster delivery of some content, passed with much fanfare in 2015, are history as of Monday.

The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines in December to repeal the rules, which were meant to prevent internet providers from blocking, speeding up, or slowing down access to specific online services. Under the new guidelines, ISPs can block, throttle, or prioritize internet content as much as they like, as long as they clearly disclose to customers that that's what they're doing.

The Republican-majority FCC voted along party lines in December to repeal the regulations, which expired today. Well, guess what: they've finally, actually killed net neutrality. We still don't and won't block, throttle or discriminate against lawful content.

The FTC would theoretically file lawsuits against ISPs that make net neutrality promises and then break them.

Yet critics say that's a mistake, arguing that the FCC has the expertise and ability to regulate the internet industry, given that the agency's bailiwick is communication networks.

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"Net neutrality ensures equal access to online content regardless of who is providing or requesting information", Florian Schaub, an assistant professor at the University of MI who specializes in internet privacy, wrote in a paper recently published in the academic journal Media and Communication. The decision went into effect on Monday. Meanwhile, at least 29 states have pending legislation that would require ISPs to uphold net neutrality rules, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Even if the bill passes the House of Representatives, it heads to the White House where chances are almost impossible that President Trump signs the resolution eliminating the first major act of deregulation of his administration. There was also concern that without net neutrality rules in place, broadband providers could create tiered packages similar to cable TV. They couldn't deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites or apps, nor could they put their own content at an advantage over rivals.

"Those "fast lanes" will put those who won't or can not pay in the slow lane, making the internet look a lot like cable TV", Sohn says. If you're interested in letting your representatives know where you stand on net neutrality and how you'd like them to vote, you can see a tally of who has and hasn't agreed to support net neutrality here. ISPs aren't idiots. However, this repeal would definitely end up in some big problems, especially slow internet access for many.

A statement by the pro net-neutrality group Fight for the Future declared: "June 11th will serve as the kick-off for intense campaigning focused on House lawmakers, who will be under tremendous pressure to support the [net neturality measure] ahead of the midterm elections, given that voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support restoring these rules".

Washington and OR now have their own net neutrality laws, and a bill is pending in California's legislature.

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