The US Federal Communications Commission, or FCC has voted to end rules that restrict ISPs from treating internet traffic differently:
— The FCC (@FCC) December 14, 2017
The vote removed the Title II designation, which restricts ISPs from throttling or blocking data in the US. The vote passed three to two, with the three Republican members of the FCC voting in favour of repealing Net Neutrality, against the two Democrat members.
FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn commented “I dissent because I am among the millions outraged, outraged because the FCC pulls its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the nation’s broadband consumers”.
In contrast to this, FCC chair Ajit Pai said of the change “We are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for much of its existence.”
Critics of repealing the Net Neutrality rules have stated that whilst this will only affect the US at this time, the effects will be far reaching. Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future, an internet activist group, said: “Killing net neutrality in the US will impact internet users all over the world. So many of the best ideas will be lost, squashed by the largest corporations at the expense of the global internet-using public.”
Companies which rely on the internet for their business, such as Netflix, have already stepped forward to express their disappointment in the change in rules:
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.
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 14, 2017
Other companies, such as Vimeo, Etsy, Pinterest, Pornhub, Spotify, and Wikipedia have also expressed their dismay regarding the ruling. Michael Cheah of Vimeo said: “ISPs probably won’t immediately begin blocking content outright, given the uproar that this would provoke. What’s more likely is a transition to a pay-for-play business model that will ultimately stifle startups and innovation, and lead to higher prices and less choice for consumers.”
In addition to the above news, some news sites have drawn attention to comments that have been made in favour of repealing Net Neutrality, which may be fake. They assert that many of the comments submitted to the FCC may have been generated under false names, or using the identities of others.