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Net Neutrality is gone, but is there any life after?

Net NeutralityNow that net neutrality has is repealed, what does that mean for the internet as it is? Well, that is not an easy question to answer as there’s not much information coming from the government or the ISPs about what happens next.

There are many thoughts on what ISPs like Comcast and Verizon are going to do, such as creating fast lanes for their content and slowing down content from other sites, blocking access to websites, charging websites to be o a fast lane or to be accessed through their service. People are worried their Netflix might slow down if they are with a particular provider, that the playing field for online content will be uneven for the companies that have the money.

According to John Beahn, a regulatory lawyer at Skadden, Arps, who does not have clients with interests in net neutrality. ISPs are “likely to proceed cautiously pending final resolution of these legal challenges. They recognize the ultimate fate of the regulations is still far from certain at this point.”

That is a big part of the issue of not knowing what’s going to happen with net neutrality – There is a range of organizations that are going to be challenging the repeal. Ajit Pai acts like it is going to be better for consumers without net neutrality, but it is difficult to see how, and Pai is sarcastic and dismissive of any challenge, saying “I am shocked, shocked, that people are going to challenge this decision in court.”

Why Pai is shocked after so many people, 83% of Americans according to a poll from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation. So, fundamentally Pai is confused why, in a democracy where the government is meant to represent the people why the people are challenging net neutrality.

The Republican party has been against net neutrality for a long time, and this debate goes on and on. The debate is unlikely to be ended now, with the challenges about to be mounted and what the Democrats will do if they get into power again. The regulations could change back, and again, and again.

The ISPs themselves have said little about anything, made no promises and essentially the most they have said is “there are no plans to change how they operate,” which isn’t a promise or a commitment to anything. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, T- Mobile, Sprint, Charter (Owned by Time-Warner, the second largest cable provider in the US) and others have statements online their sites saying they will follow the net neutrality rules. What the ISPs did may only be because at the time it was the law, but if the law says “you can do what you want,” then it would be fair to say ISPs are going to do what they want.

In regards to the lawsuits against net neutrality, it will the claim will be that the F.C.C. acted hastily and without consideration for the will of the people and that the vote on net neutrality should have done after the investigation into fake comments by law enforcement. The proliferation of bots, fake accounts and the fact that many of the pro-net neutrality laws were similar to each other raises questions about the support the repeal has. It is hard to believe that consumers want net neutrality to end considering that removing regulations will mean the experience with ISPs could get worse. President Donald Trump has said that people can switch ISPs if they do not like their service. That is a great idea, except not everyone has that choice and the choice given could be a choice between a rock and a hard place.

There is a provision in the net neutrality repeal that states ISPs have to be transparent about if they are blocking, throttling or prioritizing a service or website. That only sounds like they are being allowed to advertise their packages: “Use our ISP, and you can access this, that and the other” while putting what’s being blocked or throttled as something hidden in the fine print.

According to the F.C.C., the F.T.C. will police ISPs through their broad anti-trust and consumer protection laws. An issue with the F.T.C. chasing ISPs that go against the laws is the cost and time to prosecute anyone. The F.T.C. has the task of monitoring every part of the economy, which is a significant task that isn’t easy at all. The economy is complicated, and watching over all the companies is a task that requires a lot of time, money and people power.

ISPs are currently staying with the net neutrality laws, but next year its effects will be shown in full force. There have been cases in the past of ISPs throttling speeds and asking for payment, such as the battle between Netflix and Verizon. Verizon admitted to slowing down Netflix traffic while net neutrality laws were in place, so what will happen when they are not in place anymore?

Source: TheHill, NYT

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