Technology

Net Neutrality Rules Are Officially Coming To An End

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This week could reshape the internet Net neutrality rules expire and AT&T-Time Warner decision is due

The Federal Communications Commission said the repeal will remove problematic regulations.

The fate of the rules, which have been debated for more than a decade, may hinge on what impact the public experiences with the demise of regulatory oversight.

"I don't think anything gets better for consumers", said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the five-person commission.

If the repeal becomes permanent, ISPs will have the freedom to abuse the relaxed rules and will have the rights to throttle traffic to specific websites as part of corporate tie-ups to create unfair competition or block content and parts of the internet. "I think that's insane".

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may have made good today on its promise to kill the net neutrality rules created under the Obama administration, but Washington State isn't having any of it.

The new FCC regulations, officially voted on in December but which took effect today, open the door for internet providers to control or censor what content consumers can access online.

An FCC document issued today insisted that the disclosure requirement "will discourage harmful practices and help regulators target any problematic conduct". It said companies can make their disclosures via a publicly available, easily accessible company website or through the FCC's website, the agency said. The measure is unlikely to succeed in the House.

Without Net Neutrality, internet providers can pick and choose which sites they grant access to and at which speeds, opening the door to censorship. And in May, the Senate voted in favor of reversing the FCC's repeal; however, the measure still needs to be passed in the House of Representatives, where afterwards it will then need President Trump's signature. Almost 50 more House lawmakers must sign a discharge petition introduced by Congressman Mike Doyle in order to force a vote. Many ISPs say they are waiting to see what happens with the proposed Net Neutrality rules. For example, an ISP could charge a base fee for basic internet, and $5 extra for a social media package that includes Facebook and Twitter, or a $10 entertainment package that bundles in streaming music as well. Washington's Gov. Inslee said at the signing in March, "The states have a full right to protect their citizens". And California bill moving through the state legislature would go one step beyond that would go one step beyond that by banning all zero-rating programs altogether. "Under that approach, the Internet was open and free", he wrote.

Martin said broadband providers probably won't mess with existing services like Netflix, as that could alienate consumers.

"It's an uphill fight", said Chris Lewis, VP of Public Knowledge, a tech advocacy group that has been urging the House to take action. Netflix's homepage displayed a classic buffering wheel along with a link to the Internet Association's website. With startups unable to pay for these lanes, there is no chance that small, unsupported entrepreneurs will turn into future Snapchats or Facebooks, as this repeal only preserves the monopoly that the handful of tech giants now enjoys along with the powers of a few ISPs.

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