Date
12 December 2018
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has argued that rollback of net neutrality rules will ensure more investment by internet providers and promote greater competition. Photo: Bloomberg
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has argued that rollback of net neutrality rules will ensure more investment by internet providers and promote greater competition. Photo: Bloomberg

US net neutrality rules expire

The US open internet rules expired on Monday, handing sweeping new powers to internet providers to block, throttle or offer paid “fast lanes” for web traffic, but a court battle remains ahead, Reuters reports.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the Obama administration’s 2015 landmark net neutrality rules by a 3-2 vote, sparking a firestorm of criticism.

The 2015 order subjected internet providers to strict regulations by the FCC, arguing consumers needed protection from internet provider practices and said internet providers could engage in “just and reasonable conduct.”

But new regulations that took legal effect Monday give internet service providers (ISPs) sweeping power to slow, block or offer “paid prioritization” to some websites as long as they disclose the practices.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last week the rollback will ensure more investment by providers and will pave way for “better, faster, and cheaper Internet access and more broadband competition to the American people.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who voted against the repeal, said Monday that the decision put the FCC “on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.”

On May 16, the US Senate voted 52 to 47 to overturn the decision by the FCC. Senate Democrats had urged the House of Representatives to vote to reverse the FCC decision before Monday, and still hold out hope of a vote later this year.

To restore the net neutrality rules, the House will have to vote in line with the Senate, and President Donald Trump will also have to sign the measure.

Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for the net neutrality rules. 

A group of 22 states have sued the FCC over the repeal. A federal appeals court in Washington has not set a date for oral arguments.

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RC

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