Companies likely to take advantage - slowly - of net neutralitys end

Donna Miller
June 13, 2018

"It is incumbent on the House of Representatives to listen to the voices of consumers, including the millions of Americans who supported the FCC's 2015 net neutrality order, and keep the internet free and open for all", they said in a letter Thursday.

The rules oblige Internet service providers, or ISPs, to enable access of all content and applications, regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. If you want to use Facebook and Twitter? In 2015, the FCC stripped the FTC - the nation's premier consumer protection agency - of its authority over internet service providers. But now, with the repeal of net neutrality, users could soon see differences in their browsing. Others point out that the FTC, which oversees consumer protection for every corner of the USA economy, already has its hands full. Nor could we go back in time and undo the harm to consumers or to the competitive evolution of the marketplace.

Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon and Comcast have a great deal of freedom over how they conduct their business.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to repeal the Obama-era rules in December in what was seen as a major victory for Republicans who had pledged to scrap the rules. Those Obama-era rules prevented ISPs from blocking or slowing legal traffic, or from being paid for prioritized, faster delivery. Some say that consumers may not notice any changes at all.

Those might sound the same, but in practice they're very, very different. This means that if a consumer doesn't like the service their local ISP offers, they have no other company to choose instead.

"It's patently illegal for the states to make their own internet policy", Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who served on President Trump's transition team for the FCC, told CNNMoney last month. Almost two dozen states and several companies have sued the government to try and preserve the rules.

"There is widespread agreement among senators from both parties that we need to maintain a free and open internet", Thune said.

Google doubles down on Chrome extension security by blocking inline installations
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Still, several of these measures have failed, some are still pending, and not every state has taken such actions.

Yet critics say that's a mistake, arguing that the FCC has the expertise and ability to regulate the internet industry, given that the agency's bailiwick is communication networks.

The way we access the internet is about to change. In January, attorneys general in 22 states and the District of Columbia filed a protective petition for review of the order.

Perhaps the repeal won't change the direction of the internet.

"I don't like the idea that someone like Amazon could pay more money and have more access to my customers", Black said, "I think that I wouldn't get as much business and you know that translates into jobs and sales".

"If that puts upward pressure on the federal government to enact robust net neutrality rules, then that's a good thing", said Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator and the bill's chief author.

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