Multiple lawsuits and protests are expected to follow.
Net neutrality protections, first put in place during the Obama administration, will end on June 11. Ever since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in December to rescind the rules, members of Congress, tech companies, and numerous advocacy groups have fought without success to keep net neutrality in place.
Net neutrality rules were enacted to keep internet providers from blocking certain websites and changing the speed of access to some content. The idea was to keep the internet open and uncensored.
Last month, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the retraction of net neutrality rules was needed to remove needless and onerous regulations.
“Now, on June 11, these unnecessary and harmful internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light-touch approach that served the online world well for nearly 20 years will be restored,” said Pai, per a CNN report.
According to a statement from the FCC, the agency is on track to remove the rules as planned. Last month, the FCC received the required approval from the Office of Management and Budget in order to keep with the June 11 schedule.
Advocates of net neutrality fear without the rules in place, internet providers will have too much control over web content. New online services will have a hard time competing if they have to pay to be in the “fast lane.”
“Those ‘fast lanes’ will put those who won’t or cannot pay in the slow lane, making the internet look a lot like cable TV,” said Gigi Sohn, a former counselor for the FCC.
In May, a bill was approved in the Senate to save net neutrality rules. However, the bill has yet to be voted on in the House. With the June 11 date approaching, several senators asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote on the issue.
While it seems inevitable that net neutrality will end tomorrow, not much will likely happen at first. Lawsuits and “mass online actions” will slow the pace of any changes as companies will want to see how it all plays out.
Over 20 states have joined the fight by banning together in a lawsuit to reverse the net neutrality repeal. Some states, like New Jersey, Washington, and California, have been actively working on state laws that would keep net neutrality alive within their jurisdictions. Per a report from Slate, governors in both New York and Montana have signed executive orders to keep net neutrality in place.
Ultimately, the FCC said these lawsuits and executive orders will not stop the repeal of the rules. Per the net neutrality order, states cannot enact any legislation that attempts to circumvent the repeal. In addition, states cannot “make their own internet policy” under current federal law.
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