In a highly controversial move that could reshape the internet, the Federal Communications Commission has officially repealed net neutrality regulations.
Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be equal and fair. The rules were put in place by the FCC in 2015 under the Obama administration.
They prohibited internet service providers from blocking, slowing down or favoring specific websites. The regulations also prevented companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming.
Now all those restrictions have been removed under the plan proposed by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Broadband providers would only be obligated to tell the consumer what they’re up to, and likely in fine print.
Twitter lit up with reactions to the decision:
We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 14, 2017
— Mignon Clyburn (@MClyburnFCC) December 14, 2017
Today the @FCC eliminated its #NetNeutrality rules. That's bad. But here's what's good: This misguided decision awoke a sleeping giant–the American people. And we're going to keep fighting. In court. In Congress. And we won't stop until internet openness is the law of the land.
— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) December 14, 2017
How will the repeal of net neutrality protections affect you?
Internet service providers could block you from streaming your favorite shows and videos from Netflix or YouTube. Or they could charge you extra just to access those sites.
Your choices could also be limited. Internet service providers would be allowed to prioritize their own content and block access to particular company sites.
During the FCC monthly open meeting on Dec. 14, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said, “Half the households in this country have no choice of broadband provider. So if your broadband provider is blocking websites, you have no recourse. You have nowhere to go.”
Pai says the net neutrality rules have hindered investments in the industry. Before the vote he said, “Under Title II, investment in high-speed networks has declined by billions of dollars. Notably, this is the first time that such investment has declined outside of a recession in the internet era. When there is less investment, that means fewer next-generation networks are built. That means fewer jobs for Americans building those networks.”
The repeal of net neutrality rules won’t take effect for a few months, but opponents are ready to take their fight to the courts. Multiple states are preparing to sue the FCC to protect net neutrality rules.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 14, 2017