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Net neutrality rules are dead, the fight to reverse the decision goes on

Reuters

Net neutrality advocates rally in front of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., ahead of the expected FCC vote repealing so-called net neutrality rules this past December.
Reuters Net neutrality advocates rally in front of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., ahead of the expected FCC vote repealing so-called net neutrality rules this past December.

The repeal of net neutrality rules became official Monday despite their popularity with the majority of Americans, opposition from the U.S. Senate and numerous court challenges already underway against the FCC’s controversial decision to end the Obama-era regulations.

In May, the Senate voted to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal. Last week, Senate Democrats urged House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to bring the issue to a vote on the House floor.

“It is incumbent on the House of Representatives to listen to the voices of consumers, including the millions of Americans who supported the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality order, and keep the internet free and open for all,” they said in a letter Thursday.

More than 80 percent of Americans support net neutrality, according to a University of Maryland poll released in December.

The House has not held a vote on the bill.

The repeal of rules governing net neutrality — the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally — will free internet providers to create slow and fast lanes, or to prefer certain online traffic over others.

“Plain and simple, thanks to the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality, internet providers have the legal green light, the technical ability and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate what we see, read and learn online,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC commissioner, in a statement Monday.

She now is the only Democratic commissioner left on the FCC, which has been reshaped under President Donald Trump. Rosenworcel voted against the FCC’s repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Rules in December with another Democratic commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, who since has left the agency.

Some big ISPs have said they have no plans to throttle internet traffic.

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“It’s business as usual on the internet today — movies are streaming, e-commerce is thriving and advocates are using the internet to make their voices heard,” said Jonathan Spalter, president of broadband trade group USTelecom, which counts AT&T and Verizon as members, in a statement Monday.

“These positive and profound benefits of a free and open internet — among many others — are here to stay.”

But Gigi Sohn, former counselor for former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, said in a statement Monday that consumers will have little recourse against ISPs if they have a complaint about internet providers’ behavior.

“For the first time since the creation of broadband, the (FCC) will not take responsibility for protecting consumers or competition,” she said.

The FCC’s new rules require ISPs to publicly disclose how they manage traffic, but they charge the Federal Trade Commission with handling complaints should they arise.

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