The FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules, which had required internet service providers to offer equal access to all web content, takes effect today.
Obama enacted the rule in 2015, prohibiting internet providers from giving preferential treatment to certain websites or from charging more for certain content.
The repeal was a big win for Ajit Pai, the F.C.C.’s chairman, who has long opposed the regulations, saying they impeded innovation. He said they were based on,
“hypothetical harms and hysterical prophecies of doom.”
According to the New York Times, here’s how net neutrality works:
THROTTLING Service providers could not slow the transmission of data because of the nature of the content, as long as it was legal.
PAID PRIORITIZATION Service providers could not create an internet fast lane for companies and consumers who paid premiums, and a slow lane for those who didn’t.
Consumer advocates argued that once the rules were scrapped, broadband providers would begin selling the internet in bundles. Want access to Facebook and Twitter? Under a bundling system, getting on those sites could require paying for a premium social media package.
Another major concern is that consumers could suffer from pay-to-play deals. 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 on the slow lane.
Some small-business owners are worried, too, that industry giants could pay to get an edge and leave them on an unfair playing field.
E-commerce start-ups have feared that they could end up on the losing end of paid prioritization, with their websites and services loading more slowly than those run by internet behemoths. Remote workers of all kinds, including freelancers and franchisees in the so-called gig economy, could similarly face higher costs to do their jobs from home.
But in March, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, a Democrat, signed a law that effectively replaced the federal rules as well the governors of Montana and New York, have used executive orders to force net neutrality.
29 state legislatures so far have introduced bills meant to ensure net neutrality, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Several internet providers made public pledges that they would not block or throttle sites once the rules were repealed. Farhad Manjoo argued in his New York Times column that the internet had already been dying a slow death, and that the repeal of net neutrality rules would only hasten its demise.
He wrote that the biggest American internet companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — controlled much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to nearly all of the online ad business.
(via New York Times)