Net Neutrality Is Alive and Well in Washington State

FCC Ajit Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

There were some exceptions (emergency services, mostly), but for the most part, the rules made it illegal for ISPs to slow down (throttle) internet traffic based on content, so long as the data was legal.

The Federal Communications Committee (FCC) was successful in repealing the net neutrality rules that the previous FCC leadership passed in 2015.

"Monday, we are ending this flawed approach and allowing smaller internet service providers to focus their efforts on deploying more broadband, connecting more Americans with digital opportunity, and offering more competition in the marketplace", Pai wrote in a column for CNET published Sunday. Others, including the governors of Montana and NY, used executive orders to force net neutrality. Some states are moving to restore net neutrality, and lawsuits are pending. Under the new policy, a violation might occur when regulators find out that an Internet provider has been blocking websites without saying so. Now control over regulating the internet moves from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commision FTC.

"Net neutrality ensures equal access to online content regardless of who is providing or requesting information", Florian Schaub, an assistant professor at the University of MI who specializes in internet privacy, wrote in a paper recently published in the academic journal Media and Communication. Originally, it was expected the rules would take effect in April, but the Office of Management and Budget needed additional time to vet the new regulations.

And the last major concern is blocked content. ISPs could change their terms of service to censor content deemed offensive or immoral. More than 20 states have sued the FCC, and several governors have passed executive orders requiring ISPs doing business with their states to uphold net neutrality.

Your ability to watch and use your favorite apps and services could start to change - though not right away - following the official demise Monday of Obama-era internet protections.

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The court's decision essentially endorses "the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against", Sotomayor wrote . The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) described the court ruling as a "setback for voting rights ".

Net neutrality protections, first put in place during the Obama administration, will end on June 11.

One of the biggest fears surrounding the end of net neutrality is the potential emergence of internet 'bundles, ' comparable to cable bundles where you pay a certain amount to receive a specific number of popular TV channels - just with popular websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. instead.

Washington and OR now have their own net neutrality laws, and a bill is pending in California's legislature.

"The gutting of net neutrality is a symbol of our broken democracy", Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer said in a statement. "But it has sparked an unprecedented backlash from across the political spectrum, and Internet users are coming out of the woodwork to fight tooth and nail in Congress, in the courts, and at the local and state level".

And while net neutrality is polarizing, it is an example of a regulation that both companies and consumers agree on. But unlike with the issues of blocking or slowing access to internet services, they've been much less definitive on fast lanes.

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