Net Neutrality Rules Roll Back

Thursday, 14 Jun, 2018

Net neutrality rules which prevented broadband providers from discriminating against certain websites have been officially rolled back in the USA, even as opposition groups fight to save the regulations.

The repeal of "net neutrality" took effect six months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to undo the rules, which had barred broadband and cellphone companies from favoring their own services and discriminating against rivals such as Netflix.

The FCC said it had repealed the rules because they restrained broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast from experimenting with new business models and investing in new technology. Are you saying they want to more explicitly offer bundles that include preferred services?

And he rejected arguments that the move would lead to ISPs restricting access to online content, by blocking sites or charging a premium for faster delivery.

"We once again call on Congress to pass, this year, a law protecting the core principles of an open internet - no blocking, no throttling, no censorship, no unfair discrimination based on online content - and including robust consumer privacy protections that apply to all entities in the internet ecosystem and no matter how consumers access the internet".

Ajit Pai, whom President Trump named to be his new FCC chairman, and who spearheaded the repeal of the net-neutrality rules, killed that inquiry soon after assuming the chairmanship. "Their wisest course of action will be to eliminate net neutrality like a slow drip over time in the hope that consumers won't notice and will stop caring".

Many consumer advocates argued that once the rules were scrapped, broadband providers would begin selling the internet in bundles, not unlike cable television packages. T-Mobile, for example, was criticized by net neutrality supporters for effectively making it cheaper for customers to stream videos from Netflix and HBO, putting other video services at a disadvantage. Several states including NY and Washington, have passed regulations that impose net neutrality on a local level. Originally, it was expected the rules would take effect in April, but the Office of Management and Budget needed additional time to vet the new regulations.

The Republican-majority FCC voted along party lines in December to repeal the regulations, which expired today.

The way we access the internet is about to change.

What is net neutrality?

However, companies are likely to drop these self-imposed restrictions; they will just wait until people aren't paying a lot of attention, said Marc Martin, a former FCC staffer who is now chairman of communications practice at the law firm Perkins Coie.

But wait. What exactly is net neutrality? On the federal level, last month, a bill reinstating net neutrality passed the Senate; it's headed to the House of Representatives now. Some consumers fear a slower Internet and higher costs for broadband delivery. Some say that consumers may not notice any changes at all.

In the meantime, some ISPs have promised in the absence of the federal net neutrality rules to not slow data or block it, and with state laws in flux and a federal showdown possible, it's unlikely any would push the envelope at present.