Net Neutrality Rules Officially Ended Monday; Any Difference?
On Monday, the net neutrality regulations created under the Obama Administration were officially rendered null and void. The repeal was a long time coming since the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the rules months ago.
The net neutrality issue, in particular, drew uproarious, but ultimately worthless, activism from the public. Technology mega-corporations like Google and Apple and social media companies like Facebook and Netflix also added fuel to the fire by spreading their viewpoints across their platforms, spanning billions of people who were willing to like and repost a few activist infographics and talking points for the sensation, virtue, and outrage of the moment.
The telecommunications industry was pleased by the move, which removed a significant amount of regulations and restrictions off of the kinds of services they are allowed to offer to different customers.
In spite of the outcry, there’s little evidence that anything will noticeably change for the vast majority of internet users. The net neutrality regulations were only put into effect three years ago in 2015 as a preventative measure against internet providers intentionally slowing down the internet for lower-paying customers, or specifically targeting their competitors. The oft-cited example is that, if Comcast could choose to slow down Netflix and make their video streaming service much faster, which artificially makes their product appear better, not by actually providing a better product, but by sabotaging the competition.
Net neutrality advocates predict that the distribution of internet services will become “more centralized” and manipulated by the providers, rather than determined by the merit of the content producers. This group includes some free-market conservatives who believe the businesses run entirely on the internet must all be given a fair chance, in the spirit of non-internet companies, and draw parallels to infrastructure and public utilities.
In reality, chances are the internet will revert back to the way it was pre-2015. Despite what the large corporations would like their viewers to believe, there will still be government protections against telecom companies slowing down their competition, but it will be monitored and investigated by the Federal Trade Commission just like any other company if the need arises.
The FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, goes so far as to say that the internet will be better for everyday consumers. By removing the regulations that mandate every customer be given the same internet speed and quality, he claims, it will allow people who don’t want to use the internet very much to pay for a much cheaper, lighter plan.
Still, some are unwilling to accept the political loss. Various states from New Jersey to California have filed lawsuits against the FCC to reverse the repeal, and some senators, mostly Democrats, are trying to pass a law that would also reverse the decision, however, it lacks the majority Republican support and will probably be vetoed by President Trump in the unlikely event it does actually pass.
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