US net neutrality rules expire

Joanna Estrada
June 13, 2018

The bill keeps the core of net neutrality in place, meaning service providers can't throttle speeds, prioritize certain sites or cut deals with some content providers; all now legal nation-wide. The opponents argued that the repeal would open the door for service providers to censor content online or charge additional fees for better service - something that could hurt small companies - and several states have taken steps to impose the rules on a local level. The measure aims to restore the agency's net neutrality rules as if the repeal had never happened.

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".

And how will repealing net neutrality affect me?

The debate around net neutrality was immediately politicized.

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the 2015 Obama administration's landmark net neutrality rules in December by a 3-2 vote, sparking a firestorm of criticism on social media websites, opposition from internet firms like Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), and protests among Democrats in the Republican-controlled Congress.

And while net neutrality is polarizing, it is an example of a regulation that both companies and consumers agree on. But here are a few tactics that have been tried before that have drawn scrutiny under the old net neutrality rules.

Twenty-nine states have since introduced legislation, proposing reinstating some aspects of Net Neutrality. The California Senate announced at the end of last month that it is working to enforce stricter net neutrality laws than what federal regulations require. Before the FCC passed the net neutrality rules in 2015, there were already reports that Verizon and Comcast were slowing down Netflix, YouTube, and other services.

Content providers like Netflix are in direct competition with Comcast, which owns NBC Universal and controls access to the internet for over 20 million customers. Some consumers fear a slower Internet and higher costs for broadband delivery.

Not everyone is anxious about net neutrality being repealed, of course.

Another might be getting unlimited wireless access to a mobile app that your Internet provider owns, while usage of other apps continues to count against your monthly data cap. But, "it's much easier to reduce this issue to a Twitter slogan than it is to really get behind the detail and figure out what reasonable network management practices are", he said. "They now have nearly free reign over what content their subscribers will have access to", he wrote.

But companies are likely to drop these self-imposed restrictions; they will just wait until people aren't paying a lot of attention, said Marc Martin, a former FCC staffer who is now chairman of communications practice at the law firm Perkins Coie.

But they could start charging extra for services not yet offered.

Others, including the governors of Montana and NY, used executive orders to force net neutrality. Basically everyone from consumer advocates to human rights groups and even tech companies supported net neutrality, but, of course, that didn't stop the FCC from overturning it.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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