Net Neutrality Is Finally, Actually Dead

Daniel Fowler
June 12, 2018

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he wants to return to a "light-touch" regulatory framework for the internet and is kicking authority to police broadband companies over to the FTC. "This gives free reign to broadband providers to block or throttle your broadband service as long as they inform you of it". Last month, the FCC received the required approval from the Office of Management and Budget in order to keep with the June 11 schedule. "Our transparency rule will also help ensure that any problematic conduct by Internet service providers is quickly identified and corrected".

"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 added.

Pai, who is a former attorney for Verizon, doubled down on his stance that repealing net neutrality rules was the right call. Led by its then-Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, the FCC approved rules that banned the blocking and slowing of Web content by Internet providers.

The repeal effectively narrows what the federal government would consider a net neutrality violation.

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The fear is not totally irrational; in Portugal, where there is no net neutrality law, internet providers have already started offering bundles that include various combinations of websites; a music bundle, a social bundle, a messaging bundle, a video bundle etc. Users can still access all the sites without paying for the bundle - but if you do, you risk going over your data quota, and if you do, well, you'll have to cough up extra funds.

"Now, on June 11, these unnecessary and harmful internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light-touch approach that served the online world well for almost 20 years will be restored", said Pai, per a CNN report. 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. What's more, five Democratic governors have issued executive orders barring their states from doing business with a broadband firm that violates the principals of net neutrality.

The Internet Association said Monday that the "internet industry remains committed to restoring net neutrality protections through the courts, legislation, and administrative action".

There's also no mention in Pai's op-ed about how the two largest ISPs in the nation - Comcast and Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner Cable) - score incredibly low in both customer service and value from Consumer Reports. The rules initally passed under President Obama, but the FCC under the Trump Administration discarded the rule in December. The Senate last month passed a Congressional Review Act measure 52-47 aiming to overturn the 2017 measure (the CRA is a quick way to overturn newly-passed regulations within 60 legislative days of passage). "Hold the obituaries. Net neutrality is not dead", Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer said in a statement. ISPs aren't idiots. However, this repeal would definitely end up in some big problems, especially slow internet access for many.

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