Following heated controversy and protests, the Republican majority of the Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”) voted this month to repeal the so-called Net Neutrality Rule, which restricted the power of internet service providers to influence loading speeds for specific websites or apps.
The Net Neutrality Rule banned cable and telecom companies from blocking or slowing down any websites or apps and prohibited broadband providers from striking special deals that would give some websites or apps "priority" over others. The repeal reflects the believes of the Trump administration and the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, that unregulated business will eventually yield innovation and help the economy.
The repeal was criticized publicly and there have been numerous protests across the US, while several public interest groups promised to file a suit. The Internet Association, the trade group that represents big tech firms such as Google and Facebook, said it also was considering legal action. Critics of the changes state that consumers will have more difficulty accessing content online and that start-ups will have to pay to reach consumers.
It is unclear how much will eventually change for internet users. Major telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast, as well as two of the industry’s major trade groups, have promised consumers that their experiences online would not change.