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.
In the days of net neutrality, internet service providers were not allowed to block access to any website - unless that website was in breach of the law. The rollback took effect officially on Monday. Continue reading to find out what changes today and what lies ahead for the charged issue.
Pai claimed in a CNET op-ed that the repeal preserves the Internet as "an open platform where you are free to go where you want" and that it "will protect consumers and promote better, faster Internet access and more competition".
In particular, the repeal that went into place gives ISPs legal permission to create fast and slow lanes online - certain websites and content will load more slowly, while others will be blocked outright. A big, sudden shift would piss off a lot of people, including politicians, and perhaps bolster the ongoing effort to get net neutrality back.
"I am committed to protecting a free and open internet, while at the same time making sure there are reasonable standards to protect against unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive practices such as blocking and throttling".
ISPs also can't engage in prioritizing traffic for money.
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The rules, enacted by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2015, prohibited internet providers from charging more for certain content or from giving preferential treatment to certain websites. The Senate last month passed a Congressional Review Act measure 52-47 aiming to overturn the 2017 measure (the CRA is a quick way to overturn newly-passed regulations within 60 legislative days of passage).
Supporters of net neutrality are pushing state lawmakers to fight the repeal, but Mayer says this cannot be done at the state level. "Our approach includes strong consumer protections", Pai writes, saying that the FTC - an organization with minimal regulatory powers and no specialist knowledge of the complicated telecoms industry - is the fearless regulator we all deserve.
"Those "fast lanes" will put those who won't or can not pay in the slow lane, making the internet look a lot like cable TV", Gigi Sohn, a counselor to former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and a staunch supporter of net neutrality, told CNNMoney.
The FCC is nearly certain to challenge Washington as the agency asserted preemption, in which federal laws have precedent over state ones. "This gives free reign to broadband providers to block or throttle your broadband service as long as they inform you of it". Thanks to the repeal, the FCC no longer has that authority. Nor could they charge Netflix and other video services extra to reach viewers more smoothly.
Martin said broadband providers probably won't mess with existing services like Netflix, as that could alienate consumers.
Other states, including New York, Vermont, and Montana, are using executive orders and various other means of reinstating net neutrality, but at the moment, Washington is the only state to pass a bill protecting it. OR passed similiar legislation, but it won't go into effect until next year, as Motherboard reports.