Back in December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality regulations. There were some exceptions (emergency services, mostly), but for the most part, the rules made it illegal for ISPs to slow down (throttle) internet traffic based on content, so long as the data was legal.
Now that the repeal is in effect, ISPs "have the green light to begin degrading our access to the internet", said former FCC commissioner and Common Cause special adviser Michael Copps. Though whether anything will change depends on where you live, and what internet service providers choose to do with their newfound freedom. The Internet & Television Association said over the summer that it supported net neutrality but did not believe that the Obama-era regulations promote it.
On May 16, the U.S. Senate, where Republicans hold only a narrow majority, voted 52 to 47 to overturn the decision by the FCC - which is now composed of three Republicans and Rosenworcel.
Ajit Pai, who chairs the FCC, was known to oppose net neutrality and in the past had said it was a brake on innovation. The rules also restricted ISPs from charging extra for certain traffic, creating so-called fast lanes for companies and consumers.
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Under the new law, ISPs are required to disclose any blocking, throttling or prioritization of their own content or from their partners on customers' broadband connections. But far more realistically, we're probably going to see some gradual shifts in our service over time, especially since Comcast backed down on its good-faith promise the day the repeal passed and has previously limited access to peer-to-peer applications. The idea was to keep the internet open and uncensored. The end of the rules comes as House Democrats are pressing for a resolution to reinstate them.
As of late May, 29 state legislatures had introduced bills meant to ensure net neutrality, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. "The internet is coming for net neutrality", said Greer.
The revised rules were a win for ISPs, whose practices faced significant government oversight and FCC investigations under the 2015 order. Per the net neutrality order, states can not enact any legislation that attempts to circumvent the repeal.
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.