US repeals net neutrality rules, what happens now?

Net neutrality rules have been officially repealed in the US on Monday, as the Restoring Internet Freedom Order by the Federal Communications Commission went into effect.

US net neutrality repeal

The decision to repeal the net neutrality rules, which were put in place when the FCC reclassified broadband ISPs as common carriers in February 2015, happened in December 2017 when three of the five FCC commissioners voted for it.

The vote was split down party lines, with democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel voting against it. While the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been vocal and continues to claim that the repeal will “be very positive for consumers” and will push ISPs to invest in broadband depoyment and provide better service, the majority of the US public fears they will suffer when ISPs begin to prioritize some content and relegate other to “slow lanes.”

The order also says the Federal Trade Commission will, once again, police and take action against ISPs for anticompetitive acts or unfair and deceptive practices.

It remains to be seen how soon ISPs will take advantage of the repeal.

Fighting for net neutrality

Commissioner Rosenworcel called the FCC’s order “misguided” and said it’s bad news for those who rely on an open internet for so many facets of civic and commercial life.

“Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content. 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. Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC’s roll back 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,” she said, but concluded that the fight for net neutrality is not over.

Since December 2017, consumer groups in over half of the US states have been pushing for state-level legislation that would either result in the state-wide re-establishment of net neutrality rules or prevent ISPs that violate net neutrality rules from security contracts with the state.

A summary of the current efforts and situation in the various states can be found here.

Net neutrality proponents are still hoping that the Congress will vote to repeal FCC’s decision. The Senate already has, and now the legislation has to be supported by a simple majority in the House of Representatives and signed by President Donald Trump.