"The end of the 2015 net neutrality rules and the legal authority on which they are based will allow companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to take control of consumers' Internet experience and favor or disfavor websites, programming services and applications at will", said Gigi Sohn, a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy.
As the FCC's rollback of net neutrality protections officially took effect on Monday, a broad coalition of free press and digital rights campaigners vowed to maintain pressure on members of Congress to either restore the federal rules "or prepare to face our wrath" in the November midterm elections. Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers treat all web traffic equally, and it's essentially how the internet has worked since its inception. Supporters of net neutrality argue the regulations blocked internet providers from slowing down content from rival sites or services, and kept them from charging more for bandwidth-heavy streaming services like Netflix (NFLX).
The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines in December to repeal the rules, which were meant to prevent internet providers from blocking, speeding up, or slowing down access to specific online services. As a result, the internet could become more like the TV networks, where you pay for different packages of internet services. The new approach effective Monday hands much of the responsibility for enforcing violations to the Federal Trade Commission, a sister agency. Per the net neutrality order, states can not enact any legislation that attempts to circumvent the repeal.
Congress attempted to overturn the FCC repeal, passing a resolution to do so with a bipartisan vote in May. Of course, these commitments could change in the future, and indeed, some close observers have noticed subtle shifts in Comcast's promises already.
Q. What's net neutrality, again?
Some big ISPs have said they have no plans to throttle internet traffic. So far, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have passed net neutrality legislation and California's Senate passed a net neutrality bill last month. Last month, the FCC received the required approval from the Office of Management and Budget in order to keep with the June 11 schedule. In most circumstances, a bill does not reach the floor of the House of Representatives until voted out of the committee in which it was assigned. In January, attorneys general in 22 states and the District of Columbia filed a protective petition for review of the order.
"Not only is the FCC eliminating basic net neutrality rules, but it's joining forces with the FTC to say it will only act when a broadband provider is deceiving the public", Chris Lewis, VP at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that focuses on the open internet, said in an earlier statement. "Blocking, throttling, pay-for-priority fast lanes and other efforts to come between consumers and the Internet are now things of the past, "he said in 2015".