These states are working to keep net neutrality alive

These states are working to keep net neutrality alive

The US has officially repealed rules that governed the way net providers treated the data that travelled across their networks.

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.

Now that the repeal is in effect, ISPs "have the green light to begin degrading our access to the internet", said former FCC commissioner and Common Cause special adviser Michael Copps.

Many large internet service providers, including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, have pledged to not block or discriminate against traffic. 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 intention was to keep the internet open and fair.

Until now, anyone who uses any website has grown accustomed to a certain level of speed and service. The rule stipulates that every ISP must clearly disclose their practices to consumers and that the Federal Trade Commission will regulate any ISP that imposes unfair or deceptive practices. Pai, a Republican, who voted against the 2015 rules enacted under an Obama-era FCC, was appointed chairman by President Trump in January 2017. And rightly so. The gutting of net neutrality is a symbol of our broken democracy. Here's what we can expect from tomorrow's internet.

Two states, OR and Washington, have passed net neutrality laws and 29 states are considering legislation, which could lead to new legal battles over Internet laws. The first would be protecting users from bias caused by internet providers, who would be able to offer faster services to companies that paid them more.

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If the broadband providers do end up creating fast lanes - or even slowing or blocking traffic - they likely won't do so right away.

What's more, internet advocates have always been concerned that if broadband providers are able to create so-called fast lanes to particular sites and services, they will in effect slow down traffic to all other locations on the internet. Legislation in other states, like California and NY, is still proceeding and likely to be as strict as Washington's.

On May 16, the U.S. Senate, where Republicans hold only a narrow majority, voted 52 to 47 to overturn the decision by the FCC - which is now composed of three Republicans and Rosenworcel.

But wait. What exactly is net neutrality?

And Democrats are championing the Markey bill, which passed the Senate with the help of three Republicans last month.

"The public is outraged and fighting tooth and nail to get Congress to overrule the FCC - and it's likely that that will happen before ISPs can do too much damage", Greer said. But they aren't prevented from doing so.

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