Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Net neutrality has been rolled back - but it's not dead yet

Net neutrality has been rolled back - but it's not dead yet

Supporters of net neutrality argue the regulations blocked internet providers from slowing down content from rival sites or services, and kept them from charging more for bandwidth-heavy streaming services like Netflix (NFLX).

The Federal Communications Committee (FCC) was successful in repealing the net neutrality rules that the previous FCC leadership passed in 2015. Under Pai's model, the FCC has been gutted of most of its authority over broadband providers, ceding any remaining authority to an FTC legal experts repeatedly say lacks the ability to actually take any meaningful action.

But, in December, the FCC voted to repeal the rules. For example, net neutrality ensured that an ordinary citizen's blog about local politics would not be slowed down or delayed from users in favor of paid advertisements or companies that pay a prioritization fee.

The net neutrality rules are no longer the law of the land.

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.

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

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Washington and OR have gone farther, and passed laws that require all ISPs within their borders to offer net neutrality protections. Instead, the agency will only require providers to publicly disclose how they treat internet traffic, and will leave it up to the Federal Trade Commission to make sure they are doing what they said and aren't being anticompetitive.

The concern among net neutrality advocates is that the repeal could give internet providers too much control over how online content is delivered. Or they could block websites or apps that offer competing services to their own. Some states are creating their own net neutrality rules, but are barred by the FCC from implementing them.

Pai claimed in a CNET op-ed that the repeal preserves the Internet as "an open platform where you are free to go where you want" and that it "will protect consumers and promote better, faster Internet access and more competition".

Pai says that by deregulating the internet service provider industry, there will now be "strong consumer protections" and that "entrepreneurs [will get] the information they need as they develop new products and services". If you're interested in letting your representatives know where you stand on net neutrality and how you'd like them to vote, you can see a tally of who has and hasn't agreed to support net neutrality here. Some states, like New Jersey, Washington, and California, have been actively working on state laws that would keep net neutrality alive within their jurisdictions.

A statement by the pro net-neutrality group Fight for the Future declared: "June 11th will serve as the kick-off for intense campaigning focused on House lawmakers, who will be under tremendous pressure to support the [net neturality measure] ahead of the midterm elections, given that voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support restoring these rules". Per the net neutrality order, states can not enact any legislation that attempts to circumvent the repeal.

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