The repeal of rules governing how internet service providers can treat traffic on the web go into effect today, with backers, including the majority of the Federal Communications Commission, saying the new rule book will still protect internet users’ freedom, while allowing service providers to continue to innovate.
Opponents, however, say the new rules will allow service providers to slow down some internet traffic in the interest of deals with certain web content providers, and could also even lead companies to block certain legal internet content.
For some consumers, there may not be much change – because states have started to take action to encourage or require internet service providers to continue to abide by the so-called “net neutrality” rules or risk losing state business.
A statement put out today by the FCC says some areas of the American internet business have seen a slowdown in innovation since the net neutrality rules went into effect in 2015. ”
“The Internet wasn’t broken in 2015, when the previous FCC imposed 1930s-era regulations (known as “Title II”) on Internet service providers,” the FCC said in the statement. “And ironically, these regulations made things worse by limiting investment in high-speed networks and slowing broadband deployment.
“Under Title II, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6% — the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession,” the FCC continued. “The effect was particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers—fixed wireless companies, small-town cable operators, municipal broadband providers, electric cooperatives, and others—that don’t have the resources or lawyers to navigate a thicket of complex rules. Removing these outdated and unnecessary regulations will create a strong incentive for companies to pour resources into building better online infrastructure across the country and bringing faster, better, and cheaper Internet access to more Americans.”
The FCC, however, was split on the idea of repealing the Obama-era rules, which it voted to do in December.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against repealing net neutrality rules, has been among the most vocal critics of the decision.
“Today, the FCC’s misguided repeal of net neutrality goes into effect. This is bad news for all of us who rely on an open internet for so many facets of civic and commercial life,” Rosenworcel wrote in a separate statement. “Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content. 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.
Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC’s roll back of net neutrality, internet providers have the legal green light, the technical ability, and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate what we see, read, and learn online,” Rosenworcel said.