The end of net neutrality is here

The end of net neutrality is here

Monday, June 11, marks the official end of the US government's net neutrality rules, which had required broadband providers such as AT&T, Charter and Verizon to treat all Web traffic equally.

Net neutrality is the idea that your internet service provider (ISP) can't change their speed on sites they don't support: It doesn't matter if you're looking at The Washington Post or Str8UpGayPorn, your ISP can't throttle your speed so your porn loads super-slowly, and if your ISP is a fan of Trump, they can't block the WaPo. They're anxious the providers will charge consumers extra to reach particular sites and services in a speedy manner, either by directly billing them or by charging companies like Netflix, which could be expected to pass on the costs to their subscribers. This means not discriminating or charging differently by user, content website, platform, type, or application. It corresponds closely to the previous federal rule, barring ISPs from blocking or throttling the bandwidth on any legal content, service, app, or device, subject to reasonable network management. The chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai says, "Everybody in the internet economy is better off with a market-based approach".

Net neutrality looks set to live on in piecemeal form as some USA states are enacting legislation that will require telecoms companies operating in their territories to abide by similar laws. The FCC action that goes into effect today returns the rules governing the Internet to the way they were before 2015, when the Internet grew and thrived.

Corporate advocates of net neutrality-which include most Internet-centered firms, like Google, Facebook, Spotify, and Netflix-argue that eliminating net neutrality would reduce competition and innovation, and allow ISPs to offer their own services at an advantage.

Those last two should stick out to you, as they have been key points in the debates surrounding net neutrality rules. Governors in five states-Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont-have signed executive orders similar to Oregon's law covering service to the states.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who voted against the repeal, said on Monday that the decision put the FCC "on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public". After all, the rules on net neutrality have changed multiple times already - six times in the last 10 years, in fact.

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Any changes now, while the spotlight is on net neutrality, could lead to a public relations backlash.

Wood: It's interesting, because you're describing bundles that, while we may pay more for them, are going to sound consumer-friendly at first.

The measure in the House seeks to reinstate the 2015 rules. 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.

Pai calls the FTC the "nation's premier consumer protection agency".

Today, those net neutrality rules were officially rolled back.

"We'll see what happens after the [midterm] election", Lewis says.

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