The backlash against the FCC has been stiff ever since the regulatory agency voted to eliminate the rules back in May 2017. Protestors tried everything to get the FCC to go back on its decision to eliminate the rules, include a “Break the Internet” day but the FCC has plowed on. This year the U.S. Senate voted to repeal the FCC’s decision on killing net neutrality, but this was seen as a largely symbolic victory.
As of today, the end of net neutrality is official. Under the new rules, internet providers are no longer required to offer equal access to all web content. The rules had previously prevented internet providers from charging more for some content or from giving some [paying] websites preferential treatment. If you need a brush up on what net neutrality was and what it meant for you, check out our story on that here.
Opponents to this change fear that the repeal of net neutrality rules will open the door for service providers to censor content online or to charge more for certain types of content. Some also worry that the move would hurt smaller companies that might not be able to afford to pay for preferential treatment. Ajit Pai, FCC chairman, felt that the net neutrality rules stifled innovation. The repeal of net neutrality is also good for consumers, says Pai, because it puts authority over ISPs back into the hands of the FTC.
Pai calls the FTC the “nation’s premier consumer protection agency.” The rules that were repealed banned ISPs from blocking websites or apps; ISPs were also banned from throttling or slowing down data due to the nature of content if that content was legal. The rules also banned paid prioritization, preventing any internet fast lane for those who paid a premium.
“Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content,” Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the commission who voted against the repeal, said in an emailed statement to the New York Times. “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.”
Some states are trying to ensure that net neutrality is in effect, these states include Washington, Montana, and New York; other states have legislation pending.
During a speech at Mobile World Congress this year, Pai addressed attendees and gave a concise explanation of why he was against net neutrality. Pai said, “The United States is simply making a shift from pre-emptive regulation, which foolishly presumes that every last wireless company is an anti-competitive monopolist, to targeted enforcement based on actual market failure or anti-competitive conduct.”