FCC officially repeals net neutrality rules

The end of net neutrality could make cable giants like Comcast even richer. But not in Washington state

The end of net neutrality could make cable giants like Comcast even richer. But not in Washington state! Getty Images

In 2015, the FCC voted to repeal regulations giving internet users equal access.

The controversial repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections is officially set to take effect on Monday, despite ongoing efforts from members of Congress, state officials, tech companies and advocacy groups to save the rules.

The FCC's repeal of all net neutrality protections has finally gone into effect after six months. They imposed increased government oversight of internet service providers by requiring them to treat web content equally and barring the blocking or slowing of rivals' content. With the vast majority of written communication-and an ever-growing section of all communication-taking place online, the drive to censor and control the internet is a major step toward abolition of the freedom of expression in the United States. If you're a fan of Netflix, for example, net neutrality holds that you should be able to watch its shows without running into impediments your ISP puts up that are created to push you toward a competing service, such as Hulu. A third rule banned the practice of paid prioritization, or the offering of the Internet "fast lanes". We're still not creating fast lanes.

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai defended his agency's repeal of Obama-era network neutrality rules in an op-ed for C-Net.

For anyone who hasn't been following, net neutrality is the concept of treating all internet traffic the same, no matter where it originates from.

But while ISPs think they've scored a major victory here by convincing Ajit Pai and the Trump FCC to ignore the public, ignore the experts, and cuddle up to telecom duopolies, this policy middle finger aimed squarely at consumers is likely to result in a policy and political backlash they're going to be navigating for years.

The FCC said it had repealed the rules because they restrained broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast from experimenting with new business models and investing in new technology. "For example, we empower the Federal Trade Commission to police internet service providers for anticompetitive acts and unfair or deceptive practices", Pai wrote. But what is net neutrality, and what does its repeal mean for you? "Starting Monday, the FTC will once again be able to protect Americans consistently across the internet economy, and the FCC will work hand-in-hand with our partners at the FTC to do just that".

The end of net neutrality could make cable giants like Comcast even richer. They will have the right to discriminate and favor the Internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road. Barbara Underwood, New York's attorney general, noted that lawsuits opposing the repeal were still pending.

But they could start charging extra for services not yet offered.

Martin said broadband providers probably won't mess with existing services like Netflix, as that could alienate consumers. In Montana and NY, governors signed executive orders that uphold the Obama-era net neutrality regulations.

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