The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the neutrality protections of the Obama era network. The struggle for the future of the internet reached a critical point. The Republican-majority Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to repeal the neutrality protections of the Obama era network. The repeal was approved by a party vote.
Ajit Pai, the president of the FCC appointed by the president of Trump, has framed the repeal as getting the government to “stop micro-managing the internet.”
The decision is supported by the telecommunications industry, which claims that existing regulations threaten to hinder broadband investments and innovation.
Technology companies and consumer advocacy groups have loudly protested the derogation effort for months, both online and in person, arguing that it could mean the end of the Internet as we know it.
This is what it means and what is really at stake.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE NEUTRALITY OF THE NETWORK?
The net neutrality rules were approved by the FCC in 2016 in the midst of a torrent of online support. The intention was to maintain an open and fair Internet.
According to the rules, Internet service providers are required to treat all online content in the same way. They cannot deliberately accelerate or slow down the traffic of specific websites or applications, nor can they put their own content at an advantage over their rivals.
To take a classic example, this means that Comcast cannot simply choose to slow down a service like Netflix to make its own video streaming service more competitive, nor can it try to pressure Netflix to pay more money to be part of a call the fast internet.
As Michael Cheah, general counsel on the Vimeo video site, previously told CNNMoney: the point of the rules is “to allow consumers to choose winners and losers, and not to cable companies make those decisions for them.”
WHY DOES NET NEUTRALITY MATTER SO MUCH?
If there is one thing that both parties can agree on, it is that the Internet is increasingly important in our lives. Any change in how it is regulated is a hot topic. (Remember the uproar over the repeal of privacy protection on the Internet earlier this year?).
“Everyone uses the Internet and everyone uses these technology platforms,” Michelle Connolly, a former FCC official who supports Pai, previously told CNNMoney. “So the problems that are arising at the moment, people are seeing it from a very personal perspective.”
SO, HOW WILL INTERNET PROVIDERS BE REGULATED?
The FCC is ending the rules restricting Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to online content. The FCC would also eliminate a rule restricting providers from giving priority to their own content.
In the absence of a firm prohibition on these actions, providers are required to publicly disclose any case of blocked, accelerated or paid prioritization. Then, it will be evaluated according to whether the activity is anti-competitive or not.
As part of this change, the monitoring of Internet protections will pass from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission.
Maureen K, acting head of the Federal Trade Commission, said in a statement Monday that the agency is “committed to ensuring that Internet service providers live up to the promises they make to consumers.”
However, consumer advocacy groups are less optimistic.
“The FCC is not only eliminating the basic protections of network neutrality, but it is joining forces with the FTC to say that it will only act when a broadband provider misleads the public,” said Chris Lewis, VP of Public Knowledge, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the open internet, in a statement, this week. “This gives free rein to broadband providers to block or strangle their broadband service, as long as they inform you about it “
HOW WILL THE DEROGATION ON THE NEUTRALITY OF THE NETWORK AFFECT ME?
First of all, it is important to say what is not going to happen: Billion dollar services like Netflix will not disappear overnight without the neutrality of the network. They have audiences and bank accounts large enough to survive in a changing regulatory environment.
Instead, advocates of neutrality worry about how the repeal will have an impact on the next Netflix. Emerging companies may have difficulties reaching agreements with suppliers and paying to have their content delivered faster. That could fundamentally alter the future landscape of the Internet.
The derogation could change the way customers are billed for services, for better and for worse. T-Mobile, for example, was criticized by supporters of neutrality for effectively making it cheaper for customers to stream videos of Netflix and HBO, putting other video services at a disadvantage.
Without net neutrality, Internet providers can look for similar offers more aggressively, which would probably be seen as a positive thing by consumers seeking to save money on their means of transmission.
However, some fear that it is also possible that Internet providers will someday charge more customers to access services such as Netflix that are currently included as part of their monthly bill. So, is this already a fact?