The net neutrality repeal has passed -- here's what it could mean.
The Federal Communications Commission has voted to repeal the net neutrality rules previously approved back in 2015. Though there are still some steps that can be taken to overturn the decision, the controversial move could have some very negative ramifications for proponents of a freely open and fair internet.
The net neutrality rules were initially enacted in order to ensure that ISPs (internet service providers) handle all internet data equally. In essence, the regulations prevented ISPs from prioritizing, blocking, or throttling access to specific services or websites. But with the repeal, these rules are now being removed.
As a hypothetical example, without net neutrality, an ISP can now decide to limit speeds for Netflix streaming in favor of its own media platform or force a company like Netflix to pay more in order to get its content delivered at the speeds it used to have access to without an upcharge. Preferential treatment, fast lane premiums, or outright content blocking could allow ISPs to give certain services or websites an advantage, helping some to succeed while others can't afford to get off the ground. With that said, ISPs must now indicate to consumers when they employ such tactics, and these moves will be investigated by the FCC and FTC. Unfortunately, certain loopholes could be used to get around this.
Many prominent websites and tech companies have all pledged their support for net neutrality and many of them have voiced plans to continue the fight for an open and fair internet in response to today's news. In a tweet, Netflix posted, "We're disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order."
On that note, the issue may not be entirely settled with this vote as there are still some legal options which may force a court decision on the matter. Likewise, Congress also has the power to reverse the repeal through a resolution of disapproval, though it will need support from two thirds of the House and Senate.