Net Neutrality Has Been Rolled Back - But It's Not Dead Yet


Net Neutrality Has Been Rolled Back - But It's Not Dead Yet

Rally organizers carry away props following a protest outside the Federal Communication Commission building in Washington D.C. against the end of net neutrality rules on Dec. 14 2017

Rally organizers carry away props following a protest outside the Federal Communication Commission building in Washington D.C. against the end of net neutrality rules on Dec. 14 2017

There were some exceptions (emergency services, mostly), but for the most part, the rules made it illegal for ISPs to slow down (throttle) internet traffic based on content, so long as the data was legal.

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has accused Democrats of "scare tactics" in their opposition to net neutrality repeal.

"Monday, we are ending this flawed approach and allowing smaller internet service providers to focus their efforts on deploying more broadband, connecting more Americans with digital opportunity, and offering more competition in the marketplace", Pai wrote in a column for CNET published Sunday.

The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Montana, for example, have each signed executive orders requiring broadband providers with state contracts to be net neutral. And in its repeal decision, the FCC explicitly rejects the idea that it has much authority to regulate Internet providers at all. Chances are they were saying that to make it more likely that the FCC's rules would be repealed, or so they could support a bill with much weaker regulations and perhaps even some benefits for the ISPs. "And in the medium- to long-term, I think we're going to see more investment in high-speed networks, particularly in rural areas that are hard to serve".

The net neutrality rules were approved in 2015.

Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon and Comcast have a great deal of freedom over how they conduct their business.

Organizations that fought to preserve net neutrality say the battle isn't over.

Washington and OR have gone farther, and passed laws that require all ISPs within their borders to offer net neutrality protections.

Critics say service providers now have too much control over online content.

The Federal Communications Commission rollback of net neutrality went into effect today. The principle was born as regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies voiced concern about what broadband companies could do with their power as the gateway to the internet - blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example.

"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", said Gigi Sohn, a former counselor for the FCC. That means no speeding up or slowing down connection speeds, and no blocking of specific websites. Supporters of net neutrality have also said that without regulation, a greater socio-economic digital divide could develop, creating a class of information "haves" and "have nots".

Net neutrality looks set to live on in piecemeal form as some U.S. states are enacting legislation that will require telecoms companies operating in their territories to abide by similar laws. 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.

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