U.S. officially repeals net neutrality rules

Sergio Cunningham
June 11, 2018

Net neutrality rules enacted under former President Barack Obama expired Monday, completing a move past year by the Federal Communications Commission to end the protections.

The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines in December to repeal the rules, which were meant to prevent internet providers from blocking, speeding up, or slowing down access to specific online services.

Several states are rushing to pass new net neutrality laws to replace the FCC rules. The principle was born as regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies voiced concern about what broadband companies could do with their power as the gateway to the internet - blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example.

Lawmakers and tech companies are still fighting to save net neutrality. The rule stipulates that every ISP must clearly disclose their practices to consumers and that the Federal Trade Commission will regulate any ISP that imposes unfair or deceptive practices. A big, sudden shift would piss off a lot of people, including politicians, and perhaps bolster the ongoing effort to get net neutrality back. "Consumers want an open Internet. We were hopeful that that type of the light regulatory approach we're taking will lead to. better, faster, cheaper Internet access for consumers and more competition particularly". It also gives them the freedom to charge people more money for faster access, which would likely make the entire internet slower for everyone else. "That idea sits at the foundation of internet services, reflects how consumers enjoy the internet today, and despite claims to the contrary, has never truly been in jeopardy".

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

"We'll see what happens after the [midterm] election", Lewis says. In most circumstances, a bill does not reach the floor of the House of Representatives until voted out of the committee in which it was assigned. The industry has largely promised not to block or throttle websites in the absence of the rules, and the repeal order is still facing a legal challenge from a coalition of net neutrality supporters. In 2015, the FCC approved a set of regulations on ISPs.

Net neutrality looks set to live on in piecemeal form as some U.S. states are enacting legislation that will require telecoms companies operating in their territories to abide by similar laws. Others, including the governors of Montana and NY, used executive orders to force net neutrality.

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