The US's media censor voted to end rules protecting an open internet on Thursday, a move critics warn will hand control of the future of the web to cable and telecoms companies.
At a packed meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in
Washington, commissioners voted three to two to dismantle the net neutrality rules that prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from charging websites more for delivering certain services or blocking others should they, for example, compete with
services the cable company also offers.
FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, denounced the move. I dissent because I am among the millions outraged, outraged because the FCC pulls its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the
nation's broadband consumers, she said.
Fellow Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC had shown contempt for public opinion during the review. She called the process corrupt. As a result of today's misguided actions, our
broadband providers will get extraordinary new powers, she said.
Evan Greer, campaign director for internet activists Fight for the Future, said:
Killing net neutrality in the US will impact internet users all
over the world. So many of the best ideas will be lost, squashed by the largest corporations at the expense of the global internet-using public.
Michael Cheah of Vimeo said:
ISPs probably won't
immediately begin blocking content outright, given the uproar that this would provoke. What's more likely is a transition to a pay-for-play business model that will ultimately stifle startups and innovation, and lead to higher prices and less choice for
Ignoring the millions of Americans who protested against the end of net neutrality
In recent months, millions of people have protested the FCC's plan to repeal U.S. net neutrality rules, which were put in place by the Obama administration.
However, an outpouring public outrage , critique from major tech
companies, and even warnings from pioneers of the Internet, had no effect. Today the FCC voted to repeal the old rules, effectively ending net neutrality.
Under the net neutrality rules that have been in effect during recent
years, ISPs were specifically prohibited from blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of lawful traffic. In addition, Internet providers could be regulated as carriers under Title II.
Now that these rules have been repealed,
Internet providers will have more freedom to experiment with paid prioritization. Under the new guidelines, they can charge customers extra for access to some online services, or throttle certain types of traffic.
Most critics of
the repeal fear that, now that the old net neutrality rules are in the trash, fast lanes for some services, and throttling for others, will become commonplace in the U.S.
This could also mean that BitTorrent traffic becomes a
target once again. After all, it was Comcast's secretive BitTorrent throttling that started the broader net neutrality debate, now ten years ago.
Despite repeated distortions and biased information, as well as misguided,
inaccurate attacks from detractors, our Internet service is not going to change, writes David Cohen, Comcast's Chief Diversity Officer:
We have repeatedly stated, and reiterate today, that we do not and will not block,
throttle, or discriminate against lawful content.
It's worth highlighting the term lawful in the last sentence. It is by no means a promise that pirate sites won't be blocked.
Neutrality Repeal Is Extremely Bad News for Porn
Within minutes of a party-line Federal Communications Commission vote to repeal rules protecting net neutrality, at least three states announced measures to keep the rules204set up to guarantee a level playing field for internet consumers, users and
businesses204in place. New York, California and Washington quickly outlined a mixture of legal actions and legislative moves to keep net neutrality in place, which more than a dozen states expected to follow.
Whether the states
can succeed in stopping the Donald Trump-era elimination of the Barack Obama-era net neutrality requirements is of special interest to adult content providers and consumers, because porn appears likely to be among the hardest hit of all industries
affected by the rollback.
Why? Because porn comprises about one third of all internet traffic, and there are an estimated 800 million pages of porn on the World Wide Web, meaning that the giant corporations that now control
internet access for most Americans will envision almost unimaginable profits to be reaped from slapping users with extra fees to access their favorite adult content.