Sunday, 19 August, 2018

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

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai pushed to overturn his agency's 2015 net neutrality protections Joshua Roberts Reuters FCC Chairman Ajit Pai pushed to overturn his agency's 2015 net neutrality protections
Cecil Davis | 14 June, 2018, 05:36

Yesterday marked the end of USA government rules regarding net neutrality, but the new policy faces legal challenges from individual states, some of which have also developed their own rules on the matter.

The new FCC regulations, officially voted on in December but which took effect today, open the door for internet providers to control or censor what content consumers can access online.

However, while Pai has focused on how the new rules require ISPs to be transparent "about their network management practices", he hasn't touched on some of the most criticized aspects of the repeal: the ability to throttle, prioritize, or block content and internet access.

"They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road", Rosenworcel said.

Pai also called the new course of action a "tremendous bipartisan success" and noted that the rules were "especially harmful for smaller internet service providers who didn't have the means to withstand a regulatory onslaught".

"June 11 is significant because it will be the first time in the over 15 year battle over net neutrality that the FCC will have essentially no role in preserving an open internet and overseeing the broadband market", said Gigi Sohn, a counselor to former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. "We agree that internet users should have the freedom to go anywhere on the internet or to run any application with confidence that internet traffic will in no way be blocked or throttled", the organization said in a statement.

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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. Now the vote goes the House, which has until the end of the year to bring to a vote.

But the Republican-led House, and President Trump, are both thought to be unlikely to back the Senate's measure.

A resolution passed on the Senate in May that if also passed by the House would reverse the FCC's vote and restore the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules.

Zero-rating programs weren't specifically barred under the now-defunct net neutrality protections. However, the Obama administration inappropriately gave the FCC overly broad authority through "net neutrality" to regulate the internet. While the FCC is removing itself from net neutrality regulation, the Federal Trade Commission can try to punish ISPs that make net neutrality promises and fail to keep them. Well, guess what: they've finally, actually killed net neutrality.

In the days of net neutrality, internet service providers were not allowed to block access to any website - unless that website was in breach of the law. "There's widespread agreement that we need Net Neutrality legislation". And states like NY have signed executive orders to keep net neutrality in place. 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.