Mark your calendars, folks.
The Federal Communications Commission has stated that net neutrality will officially come to an end on April 23, 2018. In December, the Commission had voted 3-2 to effectively repeal Obama-era laws which prevented Internet service providers, also known as ISPs, from treating certain content dissimilarly. The FCC believes this decision harkens back to "the light-touch regulatory scheme that enabled the internet to develop and thrive for nearly two decades."
This change will now permit ISPs to block, impede, or charge more for certain content as they deem appropriate. Consumers may now notice a difference in how websites like Netflix and Facebook operate, compared to sites with smaller companies.
The FCC had originally adopted specific laws to preserve the notion of net neutrality in February 2015; overturning them will stop the government from regulating internet service like a utility, similar to landline phone services.
Many within the tech industry are particularly critical of the repeal and President Trump's notion that a deregulated Internet will help businesses and the economy. Those who support net neutrality believe that it is essential to a free and open Internet, as these new rules may make it harder for small businesses to reach new consumers. ISPs may also be given the free will to censor any material or content they seem unfit.
Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, the two ruling Democrats who voted in favour of keeping net neutrality, have spoken out about the decision to repeal it.
Clyburn notes how "today it is official, the FCC majority has taken the next step in handing the keys to the internet over to billion-dollar broadband providers. I am both disappointed and hopeful. Disappointed that this is one more anti-consumer notch on this FCC’s belt, but hopeful that the arc of history is bent in the favor of net neutrality protection. Whether it is litigation, state action or some other mechanism that brings it about, I am sure that robust net neutrality protections will prevail with the American public!"