World, Americas

Landmark 2015 ‘net neutrality’ rules expire in US

FCC repeal of internet service provider regulation goes into effect amid intense condemnation

Landmark 2015 ‘net neutrality’ rules expire in US


By Barry Eitel


So-called “net neutrality” rules imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate internet service providers officially ended Monday.

The rules, put in under a 2015 directive titled the Open Internet Order, aimed to prevent internet service providers like Verizon or Comcast from charging different amounts for access to different websites. The rule was supported by then-President Barack Obama.

In a highly contested decision, the FCC voted 3-2 in December to overturn the regulations, which were heavily criticized by Ajit Pai, the FCC Chair put in place by President Donald Trump.

The Restoring Internet Freedom Order “replaces unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations dating back to 1934 with strong consumer protections, increased transparency and common-sense regulations that will promote investment and broadband deployment,” the FCC said in an announcement Monday.

Pai’s FCC painted the decision as a victory for consumer choice.

“Bottom line: The FCC is returning to the successful, bipartisan framework that helped the internet grow and flourish for two decades prior to 2015,” the Commission concluded. “This light-touch approach will protect consumers and deliver better, faster, cheaper Internet access and more competition to consumers.”

The FCC’s decision has been widely panned as a gift to big wireless firms as a way to allow companies to throttle or slow down websites and applications and affect how Americans experience the internet.

A large contingent of net neutrality supporters are now pushing back on the repeal through legal and legislative means. Lawmakers like Sen. Ed Markey have pushed that the 2015 rules become a law through Congress.

“The American people know they cannot trust their internet service providers to do the right thing and protect a free and open internet,” Markey said Monday on Twitter.

Over 20 states have joined in a lawsuit against the FCC, demanding that the repeal be reversed. Leading tech companies like Facebook and Alphabet have also advocated against the repeal.

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