US net neutrality rules expire, court battle looms

Net neutrality ends this Monday June 11th motion to keep it alive could die in the House

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai says that as the FCC rolls back the Obama-era net neutrality rules, consumers will be protected under the commission's new "Restoring Internet Freedom" rule which goes into effect today. Led by current Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC voted 3-2 in December to repeal the Obama-era open internet rules.

Now that the repeal is in effect, ISPs "have the green light to begin degrading our access to the internet", said former FCC commissioner and Common Cause special adviser Michael Copps.

E-commerce start-ups have feared that they could end up on the losing end of paid prioritization, with their websites and services loading more slowly than those run by internet behemoths.

Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for the net neutrality rules. The rule stipulates that every ISP must clearly disclose their practices to consumers and that the Federal Trade Commission will regulate any ISP that imposes unfair or deceptive practices.

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Media captionWhat is net neutrality and how could it affect you?

ISPs' required disclosures "will allow consumers to make an informed decision about which Internet service provider is best for them and give entrepreneurs the information they need as they develop new products and services", Pai wrote. New online services will have a hard time competing if they have to pay to be in the "fast lane". 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. However, the bill has yet to be voted on in the House. The idea was to keep the internet open and uncensored.

Supporters of the repeal say that it will remove problematic regulations. According to Wired, Comcast, the nation's largest broadband provider, is momentarily forbidden from violating net neutrality rules under the terms of the government's approval of its 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal. But far more realistically, we're probably going to see some gradual shifts in our service over time, especially since Comcast backed down on its good-faith promise the day the repeal passed and has previously limited access to peer-to-peer applications. "But then in 2015, the FCC chose a different course".

Net neutrality looks set to live on in piecemeal form as some USA states are enacting legislation that will require telecoms companies operating in their territories to abide by similar laws. In January, attorneys general in 22 states and the District of Columbia filed a protective petition for review of the order.

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