Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality protections in the United States.
Defying millions of critics and scores of angry legislators, agency Chairman Ajit Pai led an open meeting to cast a verdict on net neutrality. As was widely expected, the FCC’s commissioners voted along party lines.
Three Republicans – Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Michael O’Reilly and Brendan Carr – cast ballots to give telecommunications corporations increased control over internet traffic and consumer speeds. They were opposed by Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, both Democrats.
As reported by Engadget.com, broadband will no longer be classified as a Title II service. Each of the regulations accompanying Title II will be removed, allowing internet service providers to profit off practices banned during the Obama administration.
Pai, a former Verizon executive, advocated in favor of a net neutrality repeal, arguing that restrictions on corporations harmed the “free market.”
By opening the track to competition, internet service providers can block websites at their leisure, throttle speeds for certain services, and create “paid prioritization” lanes. Companies like Comcast could, for instance, effectively cut-off access to independent news broadcasting by allowing customers to more quickly connect to CNN or Fox versus their less well-known competitors.
Furthermore, states won’t be able to fight back.
Under a new agreement, the Federal Communications Commission will share responsibility for “policing” the Internet with the Federal Trade Commission.
Liberal-leaning states hoping to counter the net neutrality repeal won’t have much luck, either – they won’t be able to override the agencies decisions, with any existing or future legislation rendered moot before the so-called “Restoring Internet Freedom Order.”
Some companies have already begun gearing up to renege on old promises.
Earlier in the year, Comcast maintained a lengthy “net neutrality” pledge on its webpage. The telecommunications goliath assured customers it stood to support their rights and would never – ever! – consider advocating paid prioritization lanes.
But once FCC Chairman Pai rolled out his plan to rubbish net neutrality, the corporation quickly scrapped that part of its pledge from their website.
Vox.com speculates that a net neutrality repeal is likely to hurt historically marginalized communities as well as online innovators and entrepreneurs.
With ISPs handed the power to govern how quickly certain websites load versus others, aspiring businesspeople may have to pay off telecom companies to get their products out into the open.
A net neutrality repeal, in effect, does little to benefit the ordinary consumer – in a country where data and broadband rates are among the highest in the world, it only serves to incentivize corporations to raise already-inflated prices.