FCC removes net neutrality rules in US

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As expected, the US regulator FCC on Thursday canceled the rules on net neutrality. The FCC voted to amend the rules to allow internet businesses to be less regulated, despite fierce criticism from many companies and organizations.

Of the five members of the FCC, the three Republicans, including Chairman Ajit Pai, voted in favor of the rules change, the two Democrats voted against. The amendment ensures that internet providers no longer fall under the Title II classification of the US Telecommunications Act and therefore certain guarantees regarding service, network access and competition are removed. The classification effectively saw ISPs as utility companies, preventing them from throttling traffic or prioritizing paying parties.

With the decision, the FCC loses the power to take action against providers that go over the line and, for example, use hidden costs. Oversight is shifting to the FTC, which has less expertise and fewer powers in this area. Democratic FCC member Mignon Clyburn, who vehemently opposed repealing net neutrality rules, told Ars Technica that the Title II rating is “the firm legal basis for consumer protection.” During the vote, she again spoke out against the amendment, which she said was harmful to consumers and destroyed internet freedom. According to TechCrunch, FCC chairman Pai reiterated his arguments that the remaining rules contain sufficient safeguards and that net neutrality rules destroy jobs and penalize small providers.

Now that internet services fall under the Title I category, the basis for action against abuse is unclear. The providers can therefore experiment more freely and critics fear that they will do this by speeding up and slowing down the internet speed and prioritizing traffic and services, whether or not for a fee.

In addition to civil rights organizations, many internet companies such as Twitter, Airbnb, Reddit, Pinterest and Vimeo criticized the abolition. They fear that providers will give priority to paid services when transferring, and comparable services that do not pay will be curbed or even blocked. Organizations such as Mozilla, Kickstarter, PornHub and Dropbox also expressed their displeasure earlier, with a protest day under the title Battle for the Net.

The US was granted net neutrality in 2015, when the FCC, under the then Democratic chairman, introduced rules that allowed for regulating providers.

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