Your internet use could change as 'net neutrality' ends

Graphic by Sam Chaney

Graphic by Sam Chaney

Hey, remember when there was all of that hubbub about the FCC vote that killed net neutrality? Under President Obama, the Federal Communications Commission mandated that internet service providers treat all internet traffic the same. If you want to use Facebook and Twitter?

"I am committed to protecting a free and open internet, while at the same time making sure there are reasonable standards to protect against unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive practices such as blocking and throttling". After all, the rules on net neutrality have changed multiple times already - six times in the last 10 years, in fact. Opponents say this gives Internet providers the power to block competitors and new technologies.

"Washington has a long history of working across party lines for consumer protection", Hansen said.

Pai also called the new course of action a "tremendous bipartisan success" and noted that the rules were "especially harmful for smaller internet service providers who didn't have the means to withstand a regulatory onslaught".

The rules survived a court challenge after being adopted by Democrats at the FCC in 2015, but were gutted a December vote led by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who says reduced regulation will bring more investment. This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

When fighting against the 2015 net neutrality rules, the ISPs said nearly in unison that they would prefer to leave net neutrality rules to Congress instead of the FCC.

Those might sound the same, but in practice they're very, very different. Consumer groups have charged that when zero-rating plans are used to promote services owned by the broadband providers, or by companies that pay the providers to market them, they are akin to fast lanes. 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. But those rules don't cover every provider in those states, just those that do business with those states' governments.

Pai told CBS that he doesn't believe regulating the internet in the same way phone networks are regulated is the best way to achieve the goal of a "free and open" internet. Under its principles, Internet providers shouldn't interfere with your ability to reach the websites, apps or services of your choice. Twenty-three attorneys general, along with various technology associations, consumer watchdogs and companies including Mozilla, are now suing to reinstate the former rules.

Several internet providers made public pledges that they would not block or throttle sites once the rules were repealed.

Perhaps the repeal won't change the direction of the internet.

He wrote that the biggest US internet companies - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft - controlled much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to almost all of the online ad business.

Net neutrality is now officially a thing of the past.

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