Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules Officially Repealed

Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules Officially Repealed

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday put into effect a new rule called "Restoring Internet Freedom", which replaces net neutrality, the Obama-era regulation that ensured internet service providers like Comcast (CMCSA) and Verizon (VZ) treat all websites and content equally.

"I'm confident that our decision is the one that best vindicates consumers concerns going forward, and protects them in the Internet economy that we have, and promotes a stronger economy for them going forward", he said.

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. Net Neutrality also blocks the wireless operators and internet firms from deciding not to show certain content to subscribers that they don't agree with. Originally, it was expected the rules would take effect in April, but the Office of Management and Budget needed additional time to vet the new regulations. With the June 11 date approaching, several senators asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote on the issue. "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". Such arrangements, known as online "fast lanes" in the eyes of critics, threatened hefty tolls that only the largest businesses could afford to pay, net neutrality advocates warned.

As part of this shift, oversight of internet protections will shift from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission. Well, guess what: they've finally, actually killed net neutrality.

A number of states have tried to get around the FCC's repeal by either developing legislation laying out their own net neutrality rules, or by issuing gubernatorial executive orders that limit which Internet providers can do business with the state.

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

"Not only is the FCC eliminating basic net neutrality rules, but it's joining forces with the FTC to say it will only act when a broadband provider is deceiving the public", Chris Lewis, VP at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that focuses on the open internet, said in an earlier statement. That means there is nothing legally stopping a broadband provider from selling faster service at a premium or slowing some content.

But they could start charging extra for services not yet offered. 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. And consumer groups note that should the FCC repeal survive the looming lawsuits, the end result won't be pretty for American consumers.

The reality is that what no one knows exactly what the internet will look like moving forward without net neutrality in place.

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