Mark your calendars: Net neutrality’s death has been set for April 23.
The Federal Communications Commission filed its revoke order on Thursday, with the “Restoring Internet Freedom” order set to pull back on Obama-era regulations against internet service providers. The current rules, in place since 2015, prevent ISPs from playing favorites by charging more for access to certain sites or “throttling,” or slowing down, access to content.
In its Thursday filing, the FCC said its decision “returns to the light-touch regulatory scheme that enabled the internet to develop and thrive for nearly two decades. The Commission restores the classification of broadband internet access service as a lightly-regulated information service and reinstates the private mobile service classification of mobile broadband internet access service.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has argued stripping away net neutrality will propel businesses forward, that the internet thrived before the 2015 rules were put in place. The new rules force telecom giants to disclose which content they’re prioritizing — something Pai and his defenders say will prevent businesses from running wild.
Detractors, however, view this as a move that hurts consumers, and that it helps friends of Pai — a former Verizon attorney. After April 23, there will be little in the way of ISPs charging more for access to Netflix or content from competitors, if they desire. Bundle plans, allowing companies to charge customers a certain amount for social media and another price for streaming sites, are now on the table.
And there are a lot of detractors. Leading up to the FCC’s decision in December, an overwhelming majority of U.S. consumers didn’t support changing net neutrality. A University of Maryland study found 83 percent of Americans — including three out of four Republicans — were against lifting the 2015 rules. And a record near-22 million comments were submitted to the FCC over the summer, with 60 percent pushing back against plans to repeal.
In the meantime, the attorney general of New York is set to file a lawsuit against the FCC’s decision, and several major media companies, including Netflix, have openly pushed back against the measure. Expect more to follow leading up to the FCC’s April 23 rollout.