Net neutrality has officially been repealed by the FCC

FCC Ajit Pai
Chairman of the FCC - Ajit Pai, Photo by Federal Communications Commission, via Wikimedia Commons

The United States FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has recently voted with a majority in favour of scrapping Obama’s 2015 net neutrality regulations. This move gives freedom to ISPs (internet service providers) to discriminate in how they serve website content to users.

Many people have feared that without net neutrality big internet businesses will begin to deliberately slow traffic to certain domains and websites suiting their own business interests. For the ISPs this means they can decrease the speed at which certain websites and web content is served so they can either charge more to restore functionality or block competing interests.

This decision means that big ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon will be able to begin re-shaping the internet into something more akin to a shopping mall than a free library. Supporters of net neutrality believed it was crucially important in maintaining the internet as a level playing field.

The Trump appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has long been urged by media organisations, social media providers and Democrat politicians not to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality protections. This was because of fears that net neutrality’s repeal would create a unfair and unbalanced internet experience that only benefited corporations.

The Trump administration in the White House has defended the FCC’s move whilst assuring that it is in favour of a “free and fair internet,” according to press secretary Sarah Sanders.

Since the outcome of the vote, consumer advocate groups that represent internet content creators have been warming up a legal challenge to the FCC decision. The attorney-general of New York, Eric Schneiderman stated that he would head a lawsuit by multiple jurisdictions to fight the reversal of net neutrality laws.

After the vote to repeal net neutrality laws, share prices in digital companies like Apple and Microsoft began to drop.

Australians who love services like Netflix and other content distributors may have their access affected by this decision as well.

The FCC Chairman Mr Pai has argued that the Obama-era regulations were unnecessary and had “stifled” open competition on the internet. He went on the say that the internet “wasn’t broken” during the Obama presidency and that capitalistic growth on the internet was a sign of American success with the digital platform.

The members of the FCC had voted 3-2 in order to scrap the net neutrality rules.

The average internet users is not likely to see a huge, immediate change but there are fears start-up companies will be targets by ISPs and have their content blocked. It could affect the way internet content makers like some Youtube sensations have their videos served to users.

The ISPs themselves have promised they would not change they wat they serve legal content but may engage in payment plans to prioritise certain content.