America’s strict net neutrality rules, introduced under former President Obama’s administration in 2015, were finally abolished on Monday. This means that from now on providers may, for example, prioritize certain services over others for a fee.
In December 2017, the Republican majority of the Federal Communications Commission already voted to abolish the strict rules and that has been a fact since Monday. Since the introduction of the rules on June 12, 2015, slowing down or blocking internet traffic was prohibited and providers were not allowed to offer special fast lanes against payment of a higher price. Such practices are now in principle no longer prohibited, provided the providers are transparent about it and their actions do not contradict previous promises.
There is quite a lot of resistance to abolishing net neutrality. For example, a total of 29 individual states have introduced some 65 different legal means to more or less restore net neutrality. This varies from administrative measures and resolutions to state new legislation that introduces its own net neutrality rules. In addition, a narrow majority in the US Senate has passed a resolution to preserve net neutrality rules. Now the House of Representatives has to consider it, where Republicans have a significant majority. Many major US tech companies have previously joined lawsuits against the US government and a protest day will follow on July 12, organized by internet companies such as Reddit, Netflix and Mozilla.
Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC and proponent of the removal of strict net neutrality rules, said in an interview with the Washington Post that consumers are unlikely to experience any change in their use of the Internet. He believes that in the medium and long term, the new situation will increase investment in improving networks, especially in rural areas. Pai believes that the old rules work against this kind of investment and innovation.