Net Neutrality under Title II classification is over. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 in favor of repealing the 2015 Net Neutrality Order today. The set of laws which required all wire, cable, radio, and internet providers to not show discrimination or preference towards any person or company- aka “no paid prioritization”- is now no longer in place. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai who proposed the plan believes this vote will benefit everyone. “Prior to 2015, before these regulations were imposed, we had a free and open internet,” Pai said in an interview. “That is the future as well under a light touch, market-based approach. Consumers benefit, entrepreneurs benefit. Everybody in the internet economy is better off with a market-based approach.”
In case you aren’t sure what this all means, let’s break it down. Basically, net neutrality gives people equal access to all websites, as long as it isn’t illegal dark web content. You have a service provider and pay a flat rate for access to the entire internet freely. With the repeal of NN, internet providers will have the choice to make your internet experience become more similar to a cable subscription, fixing prices how they see fit. This could limit your access to how many websites you can reach based on the internet package you have. This is extremely troubling for marginalized groups who are already deep in the digital divide and lack-of-access communities.
There isn’t any guarantee that the IP’s will choose to do this, but the tidbit is that they now actually have the choice to do that with no NN laws restricting them. “If we don’t have net neutrality protections that enforce tenets of fairness online, you give internet service providers the ability to choose winners and losers,” Steve Huffman, chief executive of Reddit, said in an interview. “This is not hyperbole.”
This doesn’t mean any changes are going to take hold right away, but over time we may start to. “Your internet Thursday afternoon (today) will not change in any significant and substantial way,” Michael Powell, president of NCTA-The Internet and Television Association, stated prior to the vote.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against Pai’s proposal, stated, “What this proposal would do is it would give broadband providers the legal right and the power to start blocking websites, or censoring content if they don’t have a commercial relationship with that content. And so the open internet as we know it could change. Perhaps not immediately, but over time. And I think that’s troubling.”