The era of “net neutrality” has ended. On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order went into effect.
The order “replaces unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations dating back to 1934 with strong consumer protections, increased transparency, and common-sense regulations that will promote investment and broadband deployment.”
The FCC’s new framework includes the following:
The Federal Trade Commission will police and take action against Internet service providers for anticompetitive acts or unfair and deceptive practices.
Internet service providers must publicly disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of service. These disclosures must be made via a publicly available, easily accessible company Website or through the FCC’s website.
Creating incentives for companies to put resources into building better online infrastructure across the country.
On Dec. 14, FCC commissioners voted 3-2 to repeal net neutrality.
In 2015, the FCC adopted the Open Internet Order, which reclassified broadband as a telecommunication service and prohibited internet service providers from setting up internet fast and slow lanes, ensuring all online traffic is treated the same. The D.C. Circuit Court upheld the rules in 2016, but the FCC started efforts to roll back these protections in spring of this year.
The move has engendered widespread criticism and opposition. For example, 22 attorneys general have filed a multistate lawsuit to block the Federal Communications Commission’s “illegal rollback” of net neutrality.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is among the critics.
“Last year, I voted against the FCC’s decision to roll back our net neutrality rules,” she said in a statement on Monday. “Today, the FCC’s misguided repeal of net neutrality goes into effect. This is bad news for all of us who rely on an open internet for so many facets of civic and commercial life.
“Internet service providers now have the power to block Websites, throttle services, and censor online content,” she added. “They will have the right to discriminate and favor the internet traffic of those companies with whom they have pay-for-play arrangements and the right to consign all others to a slow and bumpy road.”
“Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality, internet providers have the legal green light, the technical ability, and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate what we see, read, and learn online,” Rosenworcel said. “If the arc of history is long, we are going to bend this toward a more just outcome. The momentum around the country—from small towns to big cities, from state houses to court houses, from governors’ executive actions to action in Congress—is proof the American people are not done fighting for an open internet.”
“I’m proud to stand with them in that fight. We won’t stop today. It’s too important and our future depends on it,” she said.