The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has, as expected, voted to reverse Net Neutrality regulations in a move that could damage the future of an open Internet in the US.
Proponents of Net Neutrality have feared the repeal of the 2015 legislation ever since Republican Ajit Pai was appointed as chair of the FCC by Donald Trump earlier this year.
Pai has said Net Neutrality was “a mistake” and promised a ‘’light touch’ regime of regulation that would not stifle innovation.
The FCC voted 3-2 to overturn the rules, meaning ISPs will be able to block or slow down access to certain services. The fear is that consumers will have to pay for more expensive packages to stream Netflix, or tech companies will have to negotiate deals directly with providers. Businesses could also be restricted in their use of some cloud services.
ISPs will however have to be transparent about what restrictions are in place, but many Americans are only able to access broadband services from one provider.
“Following detailed legal and economic analysis, as well as extensive examination of comments from consumers and stakeholders, the Commission reversed the FCC’s 2015 heavy-handed utility-style regulation of broadband Internet access service, which imposed substantial costs on the entire Internet ecosystem,” declared the agency.
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The decision will be a hugely unpopular one in the US, with the majority of the population against the proposals. There had been strong opposition online and protests outside the FCC prior to the vote, while Google and Facebook are among the tech giants to voice their concerns.
Leading Internet figures, including Vint Cerf, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Steve Wozniak, had urged the FCC to delay the vote.
It has been suggested that the decision could be subject to legal action that would hope to restore the Net Neutrality rules.
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