Roundup: FCC Regulations Have Expired, Goodbye to Net Neutrality (at Least for Now)
UPDATED POST Association of Research Libraries Urges US House of Representatives to Restore Net Neutrality (June 11, 2018)
UPDATED POST Not Quite the End of Net Neutrality (via ALA District Dispatch)
The Obama-era net neutrality regulations that barred broadband providers from slowing or blocking internet traffic expired Monday, a major milestone in a debate that continues in the courts and Congress as Democrats press to restore the rules.
Democrats are less than 50 votes from advancing a resolution in the House of Representatives to reinstate the 2015 rules. The measure already passed the Senate. Meanwhile, web companies, 22 states and the District of Columbia are suing to overturn the December decision by the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission.
Under the new network neutrality rules, internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are allowed to throttle traffic that travels over their network or even block access to entire websites as long as the companies alert their subscribers in their terms of service that they reserve the right to do so. But since most people in the United States don’t have more than one or two internet providers to choose from for broadband service, that means if users don’t wish to accept those terms, many won’t have anywhere else to go for their internet. Without net neutrality rules stopping them, internet providers will also be able to charge websites a fee to reach users faster.
Those internet providers stand to win the most from the net neutrality repeal, since they’ll be able to operate what is essentially a two-way toll, collecting money from both subscribers and websites that want priority access to users.
Several states have taken measures to ensure the rules stay in effect. For example, in March, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, a Democrat, signed a law that effectively replaced the federal rules. Others, including the governors of Montana and New York, used executive orders to force net neutrality.
As of late May, 29 state legislatures had introduced bills meant to ensure net neutrality, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Still, several of these measures have failed, some are still pending, and not every state has taken such actions.
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Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.