The recent FCC's staunch opposition to net neutrality has been met with waves of public backlash, at one point amounting to almost 22 million comments being submitted to the its website, as well as criticism from policy experts who say a repeal of the rules will let internet service providers give preferential treatment to some websites, including their own.
The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines in December to repeal the rules, which were meant to prevent internet providers from blocking, speeding up, or slowing down access to specific online services.
The rules also barred a broadband provider from, say, slowing down Amazon's shopping site to extract business concessions.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who spearheaded the deregulatory move, says the repeal will improve broadband service. Under Chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC classified broadband internet as a Title II service, putting it in line with utilities like telephone service and electricity.
Many consumer advocates argued that once the rules were scrapped, broadband providers would begin selling the internet in bundles, not unlike cable television packages. But unlike with the issues of blocking or slowing access to internet services, they've been much less definitive on fast lanes. They couldn't deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites or apps, nor could they put their own content at an advantage over rivals.
Even if the vote doesn't make it through the House, these efforts are forcing politicians to publicly choose a side on the matter, decisions that could affect how successful their reelection campaigns are in the future.
The rules, enacted by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2015, prohibited internet providers from charging more for certain content or from giving preferential treatment to certain websites. The longer-term ramifications of a world without net neutrality is what concerns proponents of a fair and open internet - issues like a threat to free flow of information and a hazard to speech rights. Opponents say this gives Internet providers the power to block competitors and new technologies.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a vocal supporter of the Obama-era rules, reiterated her criticism of the repeal.
The net neutrality rule is officially ending Monday. Pai doesn't explain what will happen if they don't follow through, other than saying that the "problematic conduct" will be "corrected".
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. The Federal Trade Commission could come down on any company that deceives its customers. 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. The Congress is also against the FCC's decision to repeal the protection laws and will join hands with the attorneys and rights groups to appeal against the FCC's decision. We're also waiting to hear whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear a separate lawsuit on net neutrality.
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