The U.S. open internet rules expired on Monday, handing sweeping new powers to internet providers to block, throttle or offer paid "fast lanes" for web traffic, but a court battle remains ahead.
It was put in place by the Obama Administration but President Trump chose to scrap the rule in December.
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fccdotgov/FlickrToday, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) repeal of Obama-era "net neutrality" regulations goes into effect. Most major internet providers have publicly pledged not to cherry-pick consumer content, though activists say without enforcement those are largely empty promises. Basically everyone from consumer advocates to human rights groups and even tech companies supported net neutrality, but, of course, that didn't stop the FCC from overturning it. "But over time, unless net neutrality is restored, the Internet as we know it will wither and die". Under the new guidelines, ISPs can block, throttle, or prioritize internet content as much as they like, as long as they clearly disclose to customers that that's what they're doing. After an intense marketing and lobbying campaign, internet companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast convinced the FCC to allow them to slow or restrict access to certain websites. "Consumers want an open Internet".
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Today marks the first day of a post-net neutrality world, one in which rules introduced during the Obama administration under previous FCC chairman Tom Wheeler are officially repealed.
"The gutting of net neutrality is a symbol of our broken democracy", said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight For the Future, in a statement Monday. Now control over regulating the internet moves from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commision FTC. Ahead of the December 14 commission vote that ended those Obama-era net neutrality regulations, current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called those same rules a " heavy-handed, utility-style.mistake" and pledged to stop the federal government from "micromanaging" the internet by introducing a new set of "internet freedom" regulations.
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The regulations required internet providers to treat all lawful traffic the same, without creating paid premium lanes for some services or slowing others. In most circumstances, a bill does not reach the floor of the House of Representatives until voted out of the committee in which it was assigned. Many Democrats say the issue will help motivate younger people to vote in congressional elections this November, when all 435 seats in the House and a third of the 100-member Senate will be up for grabs. After all, the rules on net neutrality have changed multiple times already - six times in the last 10 years, in fact. As a result, the internet could become more like the TV networks, where you pay for different packages of internet services. "In 2015, the FCC stripped the FTC-the nation's premier consumer protection agency- of its authority over internet service providers". Deregulation could potentially change what you can access on the internet. Several states, including New Jersey, Washington, Oregon and California, have gone so far as to push legislation to enforce the principles of net neutrality within their borders.