Net Neutrality Has Been Rolled Back - But It's Not Dead Yet

14 June, 2018, 00:27 | Author: Patty Hardy
  • Wake-up call

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.

The Federal Communications Commission's order to roll back President Obama-era net neutrality protections goes into effect Monday.

Net neutrality, which once required internet service providers to treat all online content the same, is now gone starting Monday.

The rules oblige Internet service providers, or ISPs, to enable access of all content and applications, regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

The broadband providers typically frame this issue as wanting to be able to give special treatment to certain applications, where having extremely low lag times could mean the difference between life and death. 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.

Current FCC chairman Ajit Pai spearheaded the effort to return the internet to the way it was before the rules took effect, and despite the overwhelming support for keeping the rules intact, the FCC voted 3-2 to reverse course.

Washington and OR have gone farther, and passed laws that require all ISPs within their borders to offer net neutrality protections.

Supporters of net neutrality are pushing state lawmakers to fight the repeal, but Mayer says this cannot be done at the state level.

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Those last two should stick out to you, as they have been key points in the debates surrounding net neutrality rules. Several states including NY and Washington, have passed regulations that impose net neutrality on a local level. The Federal Communications Commission had voted to repeal the protections in December 2017 and faced widespread criticism by internet users.

So net neutrality's path through Congress is an uphill battle, but some are still optimistic that net neutrality will win out in the end. Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC's rollback of net neutrality, Internet providers have the legal green light, the technical ability, and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate what we see, read, and learn online.

Why is net neutrality such a big deal?

Whether you're trying to buy a necklace on Etsy, stream a series on Netflix, or upload a photo to Facebook, your internet service provider has to load all of those websites equally quickly. In California, SB 822 is scheduled for Assembly committee hearings this month after the state senate approved it at the end of May.

Pai attempted to bolster the FCC's decision through claims that the new regulations introduces stronger transparency laws and hence more protection for the consumer.

Net Neutrality, a term coined by Columbia University media law professor and former NY state lieutenant governor candidate Tim Wu, is a rule where all telecommunication companies must treat all data equality and may not discriminate or charge differently.

But the FCC says that won't happen.

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