Sci-tech

Net neutrality ends today

Net neutrality ends today”

Obama-era regulations known as net neutrality officially end Monday. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai finally delivered what telecoms have been demanding for years: an end to regulations that treat them as a utility. It also gives them the freedom to charge people more money for faster access, which would likely make the entire internet slower for everyone else.

Greer predicts that ISPs will first create packages that seem favorable to consumers, such as providing one of their own services for free while tacking on a fee for a rival service. Net neutrality explained: "imagine internet is pizza."

Pai claimed in a CNET op-ed that the repeal preserves the Internet as "an open platform where you are free to go where you want" and that it "will protect consumers and promote better, faster Internet access and more competition". Others point out that the FTC, which oversees consumer protection for every corner of the USA economy, already has its hands full.

"We've empowered the FTC to take action against any company that might act in any competitive way", Pai said. The new rules are, effectively, the absence of old rules: starting today, internet service providers (ISPs) can do a few big things they were previously not allowed to do.

"Internet service providers now have the power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content", Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the commission who voted against the repeal, said in an emailed statement Monday. One specific fear is that smaller companies and startups will not have the same opportunities to grow if ISPs can pick and choose companies and services to favor in what is called "paid prioritization".

"In the short term, I don't think consumers are going to see any change at all from the Internet experience they've come to cherish", Pai told The Washington Post on Friday.

Those might sound the same, but in practice they're very, very different.

However James Mayer, who owns an IT company, agrees with Black. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, governors in six states - New Jersey, New York, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Hawaii - have signed executive orders upholding net neutrality, and three - Washington, Vermont and OR - have enacted legislation that does so. Almost two dozen states and several companies have sued the government to try and preserve the rules. And as we've seen with the Netflix-Comcast dispute, these carriers can meddle with traffic, slow it down, throttle it and do so in surreptitious ways that are not easily identifiable, not [easy to] establish who's to blame. "People should be able to access the information that they're looking for, regardless of what their internet provider believes in".

The FCC is also facing a number of lawsuits from consumer rights groups as well as state attorneys.

Supporters of net neutrality are pushing state lawmakers to fight the repeal, but Mayer says this cannot be done at the state level.



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