In a recent turn of events, the United States FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has officially voted for the repealing of net neutrality.
This occurred in spite of the overwhelming outcry from the public against the scrapping off of the Obama-era net neutrality regulations, which require for all internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon to equally and fairly distribute internet access to everyone—irrespective of their location or the amount of money they pay.
Background: Net Neutrality Basics
Net neutrality regulations require for Internet Services Providers (ISPs) to exhibit equality and fairness with all content: Therefore, no blocking, throttling or giving preferential treatment at a price.
The passing of these rules in 2014 and 2015 marked one of the most consumer-supported achievements of the Obama-era, but with Republican-appointed Ajit Pai now at the helm of the FCC, the agency has since gradually changed its stance on net neutrality.
The FCC was hell-bent on eradicating net neutrality, and that is precisely what they accomplished with the vote earlier this month.
The FCC Vote
Although some Republican members of Congress attempted to push for the delay of the proposed December 14 vote date, their efforts were rendered in vain when a majority of other Republican members—who were for the decision to repeal—pushed for the fast execution of the vote.
Just as was earlier forecasted, the agency, in a final 3-2 vote along party lines, decided to go forth with undoing the Obama-era regulations which prohibited standard ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast from charging fees on websites looking to reach their users at faster speeds or blocking website access.
Tensions ran high throughout the hearing with the room even being evacuated for a short time because of an alleged security threat.
Pai, the current FCC chair, together with two other Republican commission members—Michael O’Reilly and Brendan Carr—voted supporting the repeal while the remaining two Democratic commission members—Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel—both voted to safeguard the regulations.
From the onset, the FCC appeared to be on a mission to scrap off these internet regulations. This was particularly evident since the vote pushed through despite the overwhelmingly bipartisan public support in favor of net neutrality.
While net neutrality can now be considered officially dead, there are many queries on what that means for all internet users both in the U.S. and the world at large.
The consequences that come with the net neutrality repeal are not only complicated but rather vast. If it remains unchallenged, this decision will ultimately influence and alter how people use and access the internet.
Nonetheless, the effects may not be immediate, and before they begin to manifest, there is a slim chance that the U.S. Court of Appeals may overturn the decision. In the case it pushes through, however, the effects will manifest gradually.
For instance, compared to Google, Yelp may take a longer time to load; or Fox News or CNN may either get faster and of course more accessible compared to a local tabloid website.
And rather than featuring its website, your favorite restaurant may just about decide to entirely use Yelp for its web presence hosting, which may be relatively slow to load.
With these transformations, it will only be a matter of time before the vibrant internet as we know it soon grows into a somewhat dull place—this as we gradually switch away from the rise of conventional tech startups and smaller websites and back to those already-robust platforms with funds to pay fast-lane fees.
We have slowly become accustomed to the vibrancy of the internet, which has mostly come due to the constant cropping up of new and inventive ideas.
Nonetheless, with internet providers now given free reign to treat every website with unequal measure, this vitality will most certainly flicker out.