Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Obama-era net neutrality has ended: What does it mean for you?

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 Obama-era net neutrality has ended: What does it mean for you?
Nellie Chapman | 12 June, 2018, 03:36

If net neutrality is lost, internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T and Verizon could create special "fast lanes" for content providers willing to pay more.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed to his position by President Trump, drafted the repeal of net neutrality rules for the sake of innovation and increased broadband investment, he said.

"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 FTC can't take action unless something can clearly be proven to be "unfair or deceptive", something that's tricky to do in the net neutrality realm where anti-competitive behavior is often disguised as routine network management. But in December, the FCC switched broadband back to a Title I classification, giving the FTC some of the regulatory authority the FCC previously had over ISPs and negating the legal authority the FCC had to ban practices like blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. "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".

So net neutrality's path through Congress is an uphill battle, but some are still optimistic that net neutrality will win out in the end.

But consumer advocates say that the repeal is just pandering to big business and that cable and phone giants will now be free to block access to services they don't like.

More than 20 states have filed a lawsuit to stop the net neutrality repeal.

"Now, on June 11, these unnecessary and harmful internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light-touch approach that served the online world well for almost 20 years will be restored", Pai said in a statement last month. Although the vote occurred months ago, it took time for the results to take effect. Or they could block websites or apps that offer competing services to their own.

Happening today: Rules that prevented internet providers (like Comcast) from slowing or speeding up service to some sites (like Netflix) are no longer in effect.

It was put in place by the Obama Administration but President Trump made a decision to scrap the rule in December. The Senate last month passed a Congressional Review Act measure 52-47 aiming to overturn the 2017 measure (the CRA is a quick way to overturn newly-passed regulations within 60 legislative days of passage).

"It is incumbent on the House of Representatives to listen to the voices of consumers, including the millions of Americans who supported the FCC's 2015 net neutrality order, and keep the internet free and open for all", they said in a letter Thursday. Congress is still fighting to uphold net neutrality, and states continue to find ways to enact their own laws regarding the controversial regulations.