What exactly is net neutrality?
Net neutrality rules were approved by the FCC in 2015 with the intentions to keep the internet open and fair. This meant that providers had to keep the internet’s content equal to all that use it. This stopped them in most cases from being able to bog down traffic to some sites rather than others and prevented them from being able to set precedent to their own content rather than their rivals.
To take a classic example, this means Comcast would not be able to just choose to slow down Netflix to make increase the chances that its own streaming service would become more popular. Comcast also would not be able to attempt to charge Netflix more money to increase their site speed. Makes you wonder why anyone would want this to be a possibility.
As of Now, Net Neutrality rules No Longer Apply.
The repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections officially took effect on Monday, nearly six months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to roll back the rules.
In a press release Monday, the FCC said the repeal does away with “unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations” and replaces them with “common-sense regulations that will promote investment and broadband deployment.” In reality, this only makes sense to those people that already are rich and are planning to fill their pockets even more.
While the move was supported by the telecom industry, it has faced fierce resistance from others. State officials, members of Congress, technology companies and various advocacy groups are still pushing to save the rules through legislation and litigation.
Why Should we Care?
If there’s one thing that we all can agree on, is that the internet has centered our being. What we dont want (as the consumer) is unnecessary changes that will either cost us more money or hinder us from making more. As business owners, we look to the internet and it capabilities to give us the network that we could never possibly reach in the time that we are able to. It was created for and from convenience. This feels like a personal attack on the people.
How will the internet providers be regulated now?
The FCC did away with rules barring internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to online content. The FCC also eliminated a rule barring providers from prioritizing their own content.
In the absence of a firm ban on these actions, providers will be required to publicly disclose any instance of blocking, throttling or paid prioritization. It will then be evaluated based on whether or not the activity is anti-competitive. In other words, a committee somewhere that is severely unaffected will determine if this is fair. But why go through the extra steps when the rules that were set in place blatantly auto-regulated neutrality. Seems like more wasted time for something that did not have to be a problem.
As part of this shift, oversight of internet protections will shift from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission.
But consumer advocacy groups have been less than optimistic.
“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. “This gives free reign to broadband providers to block or throttle your broadband service as long as they inform you of it.”
And how will repealing net neutrality affect me?
The concern among net neutrality advocates is that the repeal could give internet providers too much control over how online content is delivered.
Internet providers could choose to prioritize their own content and services over those of rivals. Businesses like Netflix, with large audiences and bank accounts, will likely be able to adapt — but smaller companies may struggle to strike deals with providers and pay up to have their content delivered faster.
The repeal could also change how customers are billed for services, both for good and bad. T-Mobile, for example, was criticized by net neutrality supporters for effectively making it cheaper for customers to stream videos from Netflix and HBO, putting other video services at a disadvantage.
Without net neutrality, internet providers may pursue similar offers more aggressively. Initially, this might be viewed as a positive by consumers looking to save money on their streaming media.
Yet, some fear it’s also possible internet providers will one day effectively charge customers more to access services like Netflix that are currently included as part of your monthly bill.
Not much is expected to change right away, however, as the possibility of legislation and litigation looms.
Is there a chance the repeal is, well, repealed?
The Senate passed a measure to preserve the net neutrality rules last month. On Thursday, with the official repeal date looming, dozens of senators sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to schedule a vote on the issue.
But the Republican-led House, and President Trump, are both thought to be unlikely to back the Senate’s measure.
More than 20 states have filed a lawsuit to stop the net neutrality repeal. Several states, including New Jersey, Washington, Oregon and California, have gone so far as to push legislation to enforce the principles of net neutrality within their borders.
This local legislation could lead to a legal showdown, however. The FCC order that just took effect asserts authority to prevent states from pursuing laws inconsistent with the net neutrality repeal.