What Will Happen Now That Net Neutrality Is Gone? We Asked The Experts


Publish Date:
December 21, 2017
  • Coren, Michael J.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last week to repeal net neutrality rules. What comes next is either faster, expanded internet access, or a dystopian internet ruled by quasi-monopolists. Or, more likely, somewhere in between.

Quartz polled more than 20 academics, broadband companies, industry analysts, and non-profits to get their predictions for what the future will bring. Almost everyone agreed the full effects will take years to appear after the Dec. 14 party-line vote led by chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order, which codified net neutrality rules and asserted the FCC’s legal authority to regulate telecoms as common carriers under Title II.

With the Dec. 14 repeal, Comcast and others will be able to charge content companies exorbitant fees without, technically, blocking. This fundamentally changes how the internet works, argues Ryan Singel, a fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Any website or service may now have to pay ISPs to load, reducing the number and variety of free services. Expect telecoms to exploit this power extracting maximum fees and deterring new entrants.

Although that case involves illegal transactions, Singel sees this as a threat across the political spectrum. “We could easily see an Administration or members of Congress push for blocking of legal but politically unpopular sites,” writes Singel. “If trolls and activists will work the refs at Twitter, MSNBC and Facebook to get their ideological opponents banned, why not do the same at ISPs?” That means sites that are still on the internet could become unavailable to many users.

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