Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

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

This week could reshape the internet Net neutrality rules expire and AT&T-Time Warner decision is due Net Neutrality Has Been Rolled Back - But It's Not Dead Yet
Sherri Watson | 13 June, 2018, 21:48

The 2015 order subjected internet providers to strict regulations by the FCC, arguing consumers needed protection from internet provider practices and said internet providers could engage in "just and reasonable conduct".

Current FCC chairman Ajit Pai spearheaded the effort to return the internet to the way it was before the rules took effect, and despite the overwhelming support for keeping the rules intact, the FCC voted 3-2 to reverse course.

Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and AT&T Inc (T.N) have pledged to not block or discriminate against legal content after the rules expire. Brendan Carr, a Republican member of the FCC, said on Twitter: "Americans are passionate about the free and open internet".

The US has officially repealed rules that governed the way net providers treated the data that travelled across their networks. "Our approach includes strong consumer protections", Pai writes, saying that the FTC - an organization with minimal regulatory powers and no specialist knowledge of the complicated telecoms industry - is the fearless regulator we all deserve.

In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal those "open internet" rules, reclassifying the internet as an information service, which is subject to less regulation. Without rules prohibiting paid prioritization, a fast lane could be occupied by big internet and media companies, as well as affluent households, while everyone else would be left in the slow lane.

"Repealing these rules basically gives companies the ability to do whatever they want", Miller said. Earlier this decade, many consumers found their access to Netflix slowed amid a dispute between the streaming video provider and broadband companies over who would pay to upgrade the connections between their networks. They're anxious the providers will charge consumers extra to reach particular sites and services in a speedy manner, either by directly billing them or by charging companies like Netflix, which could be expected to pass on the costs to their subscribers.

However James Mayer, who owns an IT company, agrees with Black. Almost two dozen states and several companies have sued the government to try and preserve the rules. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, governors in six states - New Jersey, New York, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Hawaii - have signed executive orders upholding net neutrality, and three - Washington, Vermont and OR - have enacted legislation that does so.

Still, several of these measures have failed, some are still pending, and not every state has taken such actions.

In 2015, the Title II Order reclassified the internet as a telecommunications service, which is regulated like a public utility. Over 20 state attorneys have filed lawsuits to block the repeal.

"I don't like the idea that someone like Amazon could pay more money and have more access to my customers", Black said, "I think that I wouldn't get as much business and you know that translates into jobs and sales".