What’s Next After the Net Neutrality Defeat?

The nation is in turmoil over the future of the internet, following the decision made by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to terminate net neutrality. The rules have been in place since 2015, when they were instituted to ensure the internet remained freely available to everyone without interference from service providers eager to push their own products and services.
Changes Won’t Be Immediate, But They Will Come
The greatest fear sweeping the online community has been that changes would be immediate, following the defeat of net neutrality. The assumption was that service providers would charge for access to individual websites, such as social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While that hasn’t been the case, internet service providers have hinted that they may use their new-found power to push their own interests.
All legal content will still be available on the internet, but companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Comcast are likely to prioritize their own content. This means smaller start-up companies, or those with no service provider affiliations, will experience greater difficulty in reaching consumers. The larger service providers assert that the unregulated internet prior to 2015 functioned well and even provided better user experiences.
FCC Commissioner Mike O‘Rielly supported the decision to do away with net neutrality, suggesting new technologies, such as self-driving vehicles, can now be given priority over the flood of “cat videos” seen on social media. He added that making extreme changes to service wouldn’t serve providers well with their customers and would only attract negative attention from lawmakers. By attempting to block or discriminate against certain kinds of content, internet service providers would only be hurting their own interests, O’Reilly said.
“It is simply not worth the reputation cost,” added the FCC commissioner.
The Fight is Far From Over
While the public feels defeated by the repeal of net neutrality, congress isn’t giving up so easily. Democrats in particular are committed to protecting the rights and freedoms granted by net neutrality, whether that means working through the courts or establishing new laws in congress. Already, Senator Edward Markey claims to have the backing of 15 other senators in a move to undo the net neutrality repeal.
Meanwhile, another FCC commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, released a dissenting opinion in which she warned of the new overreaching powers now granted to internet service providers.
“They have the technical ability and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic,” Rosenworcel stated. “And now this agency gives them the legal green light to go ahead.”
A recent poll, conducted by the University of Maryland, found that 80% of participants opposed the repeal of net neutrality rules. The poll was conducted prior to the ruling, between December 6 and December 8.

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