New US Neutrality Rules Repealed;
Supporters, Critics of Move Wonder What's Next
June 12, 2018
The Federal Communications
Commission’s repeal of the United States’ net neutrality rules — which
mandated internet service providers to not discriminate in their
handling of internet traffic — took effect Monday, reigniting fears from
internet freedom advocates of potential manipulation of consumers’
The FCC voted in December to overturn its net neutrality rule, first put
in place by the Obama administration in 2015. With its repeal, the door
is now open for internet service providers to block content, slow data
transmission, and create “fast lanes” for consumers who pay premiums.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a staunch critic of net neutrality, wrote Sunday
that while he “support[s] a free an open internet,” the overturning of
the Obama-era rule will allow the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] to
“once again be able to protect Americans consistently across the
In 2004, then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell announced the commission’s
support of what he called the “four internet freedoms,” including the
freedom of consumers to access content. Since 2005, the FCC had enforced
net neutrality rules in some regard, with the support of both Republican
and Democratic chairmen. In 2015, the regulations were codified into
“We’re actually in a brave new world where no protections for a free
internet currently exist, whereas they have for the majority of the
history of the internet,” Tim Karr, senior director of strategy and
communications of media watchdog Free Press, told VOA on Monday.
Karr said based on the prior actions of internet service providers, he
feared we could see restrictions placed on such free internet access.
In 2007, the Associated Press reported that telecommunications giant
Comcast was stifling connection to file-sharing websites such as
BitTorrent. In 2011, fellow communication company Verizon blocked the
download of Google Wallet, a payment app, on its mobile devices.
Verizon spokesman Rich Young told VOA that the company “strongly
supports open internet rules,” and the recent FCC decision does not
change the company's support of full internet access.
Since the December FCC decision, two states — Washington and Oregon —
have passed their own net neutrality laws, whereas governors of five
other states — Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana and Vermont — have
issued executive orders mandating that internet service providers for
government agencies abide by net neutrality regulations.
May, the U.S. Senate voted 52-47 to reinstate the FCC’s 2015 net
neutrality rules. Every Democratic senator voted for the proposal, as
did three Republicans: John Kennedy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine
and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
The bill is now in the House of Representatives, where outgoing Speaker
Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has not yet announced any plans to
bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
Congressman Mike Doyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat, filed a petition in May
to force a vote on the matter. Doyle spokesperson Matt Dinkel said of
the 218 signees for the petition needed to force a vote, the petition
currently has 170.
“If enough representatives sign the discharge petition to bring the bill
to the floor, odds are that it will pass,” Dinkel told VOA.