Net neutrality rules which prevented broadband providers from discriminating against certain websites have been officially rolled back in the U.S., even as opposition groups fight to save the regulations.
Net neutrality, a long-held principle of the internet that was established as an official rule during the Obama administration, requires internet service providers to treat all content equally, so they aren't allowed to slow down, say, this website just because we might write that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai looks like he gargles Mitch McConnell's balls.
Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content.
The end of "net neutrality" is going to majorly affect the way internet-service providers do business, but how noticeable will the changes be for you, the customer?
E-commerce startups 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. Though whether anything will change depends on where you live, and what internet service providers choose to do with their newfound freedom.
"Now, on June 11, these unnecessary and harmful Internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light-touch approach that served the online world well for almost 20 years will be restored", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement Thursday.
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But the FCC has simultaneously given up its authority to strictly regulate the broadband industry, and it has eliminated rules that required ISPs to be more transparent with customers about hidden fees and the consequences of exceeding data caps. Washington is the only state that has net neutrality rules in place, and other states are expected to follow suit and set up laws over the coming months through executive orders.
Pai argued that net neutrality created a disincentive for internet services to invest in their networks. And states like NY have signed executive orders to keep net neutrality in place. Among the Republican commissioners who voted in favor of the repeal was Pai, Michael O'Reilly, and Brendan Carr. ISPs would only be punished by the FCC if they fail to disclose what the commission used to consider net neutrality violations. A big, sudden shift would piss off a lot of people, including politicians, and perhaps bolster the ongoing effort to get net neutrality back.
The Senate passed a measure to preserve the net neutrality rules last month.
"Repealing these rules basically gives companies the ability to do whatever they want", Miller said. Most major internet providers have publicly pledged not to cherry-pick consumer content, though activists say without enforcement those are largely empty promises.
Net neutrality is now officially a thing of the past.