It finally happened. The repeal of net neutrality laws by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took effect on Monday.
According to the FCC, the repeal will put an end to the “unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations” implemented by the previous administration and move forward with “common-sense regulations that will promote investment and broadband deployment.”
— PC Gamer (@pcgamer) June 12, 2018
The net neutrality rules, which were passed in 2015 during the tenure of President Barack Obama, prevented internet providers from giving special treatment to specific websites or charging them more for particular content. However, current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai opposed these regulations as he believed they impeded innovation.
What It Means for Consumers
Most internet users and consumer advocates are rightly worried that the repeal of Title II, or the net neutrality bill, means that broadband providers would start to sell their services in bundles, much like how cable television is packaged. For instance, some providers might require users to pay for a social media premium bundle in order to access platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
There are also concerns that without the protections of the neutrality law, internet providers can slow down their competitor's traffic or any other site they want to slow down. Conversely, they can also create “fast lanes,” which companies with deep enough pockets can take advantage of in return for faster connectivity.
This also means that the playing field could be biased against small companies or eCommerce startups that will have to fight harder for exposure. Freelancers and other remote workers might also have to shell out more money to work from home.
Can Net Neutrality be Revived?
While it's understandable for consumers to be wary about the FCC repeal, it will reportedly be months before any changes are felt. In the meantime, several states have already taken steps to protect net neutrality. The governors of Montana, New York, and Washington have either signed a law or issued executive orders to counter federal rules regarding the internet.
There's also a motion in the lower House right now that could push Republicans to vote to reinstate the 2015 net neutrality rules. Voters still have a say on this as they can either force their state representative to take a stand or vote out and replace them with someone who supports their stand on a free internet.
For their part, some internet providers have publicly pledged that they will not throttle or block sites even with the repeal of Title II. Their only argument against the bill was the fact that the FCC had so much control over their business and that the regulations made expansion difficult.