FCC Votes To End Net Neutrality, How Will This Affect Consumers?
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to eliminate 2015’s Open Internet Order effectively ending net neutrality in the United States. The order which passed today, known officially as the “Restoring Internet Freedom” order passed despite opposition from members of Congress, advocacy groups, technical advisors, and many of the American people.
Thursday’s ruling removes the FCC from the regulatory role it established for itself two years ago. Under the new guidelines, the Federal Trade Commission will be in charge of regulating internet service providers, but it doesn’t have the same level of expertise as the FCC and lacks the power to create preemptive rules such as the ones established in 2015. In short, consumers will have to rely on the honor system and hope that their providers don’t throttle internet speeds or block content altogether.
Unsuprisingly, the vote was passed alongside partisan lines with the three Republicans, including FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, voting to end net neutrality and the panel’s two Democrat voting to preserve the rules. Democrat Mignon Clyburn was particularly venhment in his opposition to the end of net neutrality.
“I dissent from this fiercely spun, legally lightweight, consumer-harming, corporate-enabling Destroying Internet Freedom Order,” Clyburn said. ““There is a basic fallacy underlying the majority’s actions and rhetoric today: the assumption of what is best for broadband providers is best for America. What saddens me is that the agency that is supposed to protect you is abandoning you. But what I am pleased to be able to say is the fight to save net neutrality does not end today. This agency does not have the final word. Thank goodness.”
In terms of consumer impact, it is unlikely that most consumers will notice a change right away. However, it opens the door for ISPs to slow down internet traffic to sites they dislike or even ban certain sites altogether. For example, under the rules established in today’s vote, Comcast could, in theory, slow down traffic to Netflix in order to incentivize users to purchase a cable package.
Eric is an avid tech junkie, gamer, and comic fan. When he's not working on his PC, you'll find him at your local comic book shop.