Net neutrality rules, designed to keep the internet a free and open place with democratic access for all, are once again under serious threat in the United States.
Ajit Pei, the Trump-appointed head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), plans to repeal 2015 Obama-era rules, put in place to protect open access to the web.
Should the commission vote to rescind the protections, internet service providers will have vast power to reshape how we access the WWW.
Companies like Comcast and AT&T will be able to charge more to access certain areas of the web and even prevent some consumers accessing some sites.
For businesses like Netflix, they could be forced to pay ISPs for access to fast lane speeds in order to keep up their level of service.
“The FCC will no longer be in the business of micromanaging business models and preemptively prohibiting services and applications and products that could be pro-competitive,” Pai said in an interview with Reuters.
“We should simply set rules of the road that let companies of all kinds in every sector compete and let consumers decide who wins and loses,” he added.
Net neutrality has come under increasing threat from corporate interests and the vote appears highly likely to succeed this time around.
That’s because the FCC is made up of three Republican and two Democratic commissioners.
The Internet Association, which represents Google’s parent company Alphabet as well as Facebook said the vote will spell the end of net neutrality.
The proposal “represents the end of net neutrality as we know it and defies the will of millions of Americans,” the group said in a statement.
“This proposal undoes nearly two decades of bipartisan agreement on baseline net neutrality principles that protect Americans’ ability to access the entire internet,” it said.
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