Economy

What does net neutrality repeal mean for you?

What does net neutrality repeal mean for you?”

"The United States has a specialized telecom agency with the expertise and technical capability to protect net neutrality and ensure an open internet", FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny had said. If the only providers that can serve state governments are those that observe net neutrality, these states reason, then it could shape what services consumers are offered, too. The FTC can't take action unless something can clearly be proven to be "unfair or deceptive", something that's tricky to do in the net neutrality realm where anti-competitive behavior is often disguised as routine network management.

Why is net neutrality such a big deal?

The debate around net neutrality was immediately politicized. 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.

The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality saying the regulations were unnecessary and unhelpful, that repeal takes effect Monday.

"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. In Montana and NY, governors signed executive orders that uphold the Obama-era net neutrality regulations.

A fierce debate has surrounded the concept of net neutrality. Many ISPs seem to be concerned that any drastic move could force many of their customers to subscribe to new internet options like 5G when it rolls out later this year.

Supporters of net neutrality, on the other hand, say that its death will lead to certain content being blocked by internet providers, slowing down and throttling speeds on certain websites, internet tolls and a situation where users may have to pay to use everyday services.

"Consumers won't notice the shift at first, but over time the internet will become unrecognizable", she said. "Under that approach, the Internet was open and free", he wrote. It also meant that companies could not give preferential treatment to their own content; for example, Comcast, which owns NBC, could not treat the content from NBC more favourably than that of a competitor.

"The idea that your ISP, because it controls the on-ramp to the internet, can be in a position to affect the flow of information in society is a concern that resonates with people", Daniel Lyons, a telecommunications lawyer, tells MONEY.

Lyons said he thinks the likelihood of actual harm from net neutrality is relatively remote, and that laws that already exist to regulate corporations, like anti-trust regulations, will prevent ISPs from behaving badly. "They now have nearly free reign over what content their subscribers will have access to", he wrote.

"Those "fast lanes" will put those who won't or can not pay in the slow lane, making the internet look a lot like cable TV", Sohn says.

Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon and Comcast have a great deal of freedom over how they conduct their business. But unlike with the issues of blocking or slowing access to internet services, they've been much less definitive on fast lanes.

Net neutrality is the basic principle that all internet traffic should be be treated equally.



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