Net neutrality will soon be a thing of the past.
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to kill of Net neutrality, a set of rules implemented in 2015 that closely governed the actions of Internet service providers by preventing blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
The move is a controversial one with the Democrats, tech companies, privacy advocates and a number of other parties standing against the removal of Net neutrality
Chairman Ajit Pai got his way despite the opposition thanks to the FCC commission having more Republican commissioners than Democrats. Pai, a Republican, was supported in his proposal to get rid of Net neutrality by Republican commissioners Mike O’Rielly and Brendan Carr. Democrat commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn voted against the change.
Pai, in a statement before the vote, said Net neutrality has impeded innovation since it was implemented in 2015. He also said it is a threat to a free and open Internet.
“Our decision today will also return regulatory parity to the Internet economy,” Pai said. “Some giant Silicon Valley platforms favor imposing heavy-handed regulations on other parts of the Internet ecosystem. But all too often, they don’t practice what they preach. Edge providers regularly block content that they don’t like. They regularly decide what news, search results, and products you see—and perhaps more importantly, what you don’t.”
O’Reilly said the issue is one that is grossly misunderstood due to an abundance of “baseless fearmongering” by its opponents.
“Many small businesses have been blatantly misled into thinking that they are going to be forced to pay more to continue to do business online. Others have been told that free speech and civil rights are on the line. It simply isn’t true – and we know that from experience,” he said.
“The Internet has functioned without Net neutrality rules far longer than with them. Having rules has been the exception, not the norm. So, what happened during that time? Did ISPs start scouring the web in the hopes of charging a small business more to run an online shop? Did they block advocacy groups from expressing their views? Of course not… The legend of a cable company trying to break the Internet may make a scary bedtime story for the children of telecom geeks, but it isn’t reality.”
Clyburn, however, doesn’t see it that way. She accused the FCC of “abdicating responsibility to protect the nation’s broadband consumers.”
“We have heard story after story of what net neutrality means to consumers and small businesses from places as diverse as Los Angeles’ Skid Row and Marietta, Ohio,” Clyburn said. “I hold in my hand letters that plead with the FCC to keep our net neutrality rules in place but what is striking and in keeping with the new norm, despite the millions of comments, letters, and calls received, this Order cites, not even one consumer comment. That speaks volumes about the direction the FCC is heading. That speaks volumes about just who is being heard at the FCC.”
The removal of Net neutrality will not be immediate. The White House Office of Management and Budget must formally approve the change before it can be implemented. The removal is expected to take effect in a matter of months.
During that time, opponents will be fighting the change. One of those opponents is New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who has vowed to “fight back” with a multi-state lawsuit.
“We will sue to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality,” Schneiderman said in a press release. “This is not just an attack on the future of our internet. It’s an attack on all New Yorkers, and on the integrity of every American’s voice in government – and we will fight back.”
He said he also intends to continue his investigation into the alleged corruption of the comment process during the FCC’s review of Net neutrality.